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Commercial Crew Development

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Title: Commercial Crew Development  
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Subject: Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, Human spaceflight, SpaceX, Commercial Resupply Services, NASA
Collection: Human Spaceflight, NASA Programs, Private Spaceflight, Space Act Agreement Companies
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Commercial Crew Development

Commercial Crew Program logo
NASA Commercial Crew and Cargo
Initiative Period

Commercial Cargo Development 2006 - 2013
Commercial Space Transportation Capabilities 2007 - 2010
Commercial Crew Development (phase 1) 2010 - 2011
Commercial Crew Development (phase 2) 2011 - 2012
Commercial Crew integrated Capability (phase 3)
(base period milestones)
2012 - 2014
Commercial Crew integrated Capability (phase 4)
(optional period milestones)
2014 - 2017
Certification Products Contract (crew) 2012 - 2014
Commercial Crew Transportation Capability 2014 - 2017
Commercial Resupply Services (cargo) 2011 - 2016
ISS Crew Transportation Services (crew) 2017 -

NASA's COTS program
Private spaceflight companies

Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) is a multiphase space technology development program, funded by the U.S. government, and administered by NASA. The program is intended to stimulate development of privately operated crew vehicles to low Earth orbit. It is run by the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO) at NASA.[1] William Gerstenmaier, NASA's Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations for NASA, has stated that most likely only one competitor will be chosen to deliver crew to the ISS.[2] This spacecraft is expected to begin doing so around 2017.[3]

In the first phase of the program, NASA provided a combined $50 million in 2010 to five American companies, intended to foster research and development into human spaceflight concepts and technologies in the private sector.

A second set of Commercial Crew Development proposals were solicited by NASA in October 2010 for technology development project durations of up to 14 months.[4] In April 2011, NASA announced that they would award up to nearly $270 million to four companies as they meet their CCDev 2 objectives.

NASA awarded Space Act Agreements for the third phase, named CCiCap, in August 2012 and is to last until 2014.[5] CCiCap is followed by CCtCap with Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 15 contracts. The CCtCap FAR contracts forming the fourth and final phase were awarded to SpaceX and Boeing in September 2014.[6]


  • Requirements 1
  • Program overview 2
    • Funding and effect on schedule 2.1
  • Phases 3
    • CCDev 1 3.1
      • Proposals selected 3.1.1
      • Proposals received 3.1.2
    • CCDev 2 3.2
      • Proposals selected 3.2.1
      • Proposals selected without NASA funding 3.2.2
      • Proposals not selected 3.2.3
    • Commercial Crew integrated Capability 3.3
      • Proposals selected 3.3.1
      • Proposals that passed acceptability screening 3.3.2
      • Proposals not selected 3.3.3
      • Development achievements 3.3.4
      • Preparation for the next phase 3.3.5
    • Certification Products Contract (CPC) phase 1 3.4
      • Proposals selected 3.4.1
    • Certification Products Contract (CPC) phase 2 3.5
    • Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) 3.6
      • Awards 3.6.1
  • Flights 4
  • Funding summary 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The key high-level requirements for the Commercial Crew vehicles include:

  • Deliver and return four crew members and their equipment.[7][8]
  • Provide assured crew return in the event of an emergency.[7]
  • Serve as a 24-hour safe haven in the event of an emergency.[7][8]
  • Capable of remaining docked for 210 days.[7][8] The Space Shuttle could only remain docked for a maximum of 12 days.[9]

Program overview

Flag left aboard ISS by the crew of STS-135 is to be retrieved by the next crew launched on an American vehicle

NASA provided the following description of the Commercial Crew Development program in December 2009.[10]

The objectives of the Commercial Crew & Cargo Program are to implement U.S. Space Exploration policy with investments to stimulate the commercial space industry; facilitate U.S. private industry demonstration or cargo and crew space transportation capabilities with the goal of achieving safe, reliable, cost effective access to low-Earth orbit; and create a market environment in which commercial space transportation services are available to Government and private sector customers.
The Commercial Crew & Cargo Program is applying Recovery Act funds to stimulate efforts within the private sector to develop and demonstrate human spaceflight capabilities. NASA plans to use funds appropriated for "Exploration" under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) through its C3PO to support efforts within the private sector to develop system concepts and capabilities that could ultimately lead to the availability of commercial human spaceflight services. These efforts are intended to foster entrepreneurial activity leading to job growth in engineering, analysis, design, and research and to promote economic recovery as capabilities for new markets are created.
ARRA provided $400 million for space exploration related activities. Of this amount, $50 million is to be used for the development of commercial crew space transportation concepts and enabling capabilities. This effort is known as CCDev. The purpose of this activity is to provide funding to assist viable commercial entities in the development of system concepts, key technologies, and capabilities that could ultimately be used in commercial crew human space transportation systems. This development work must show, within the timeframe of the agreement, significant progress on long lead capabilities, technologies and commercial crew risk mitigation tasks in order to accelerate the development of their commercial crew space transportation concept.
CCDev schedule as of December 2013

Contract funding for the CCDev program is quite different from traditional space industry contractor funding used on the Space Shuttle, Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury programs. Contracts are explicitly designed to fund only specific subsystem technology development objectives that NASA wants for NASA purposes; all other system technology development is funded by the commercial contractor. Contracts are issued for fixed-price, pay-for-performance milestones. "NASA's contribution is fixed."[11]

Funding and effect on schedule

The first flight of the Commercial Crew program was planned to occur in 2015, but insufficient funding has caused delays.[12][13] NASA Administrator, Charles Bolden, has attributed the delays of the CCDev program to insufficient funding from Congress.[14] Michael López-Alegría, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, has also attributed the delays in the program to funding.[15]

For the 2011 budget, $500 million was requested for the CCDev program, but only $270 million was granted by Congress.[16] For the 2012 budget, $850 million was requested but Congress only approved a budget of $406 million, and as a result the first flight of Commercial Crew was delayed from 2016 to 2017.[13] For the 2013 budget, $830 million was requested but Congress approved of only $488 million.[17] For the 2014 budget, $821 million is being requested.[12]


CCDev 1

The construction of the CST-100 pressure vessel was one of Boeing's CCDev 1 milestones

Under CCDev phase 1, NASA has entered into funded Space Act Agreements with several companies working on technologies and systems for human spaceflight. Funding was provided as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. A total of $50 million for 2010 was awarded to five American companies, intended to foster research and development into human spaceflight concepts and technologies in the private sector.[10][18][19] The phase 1 amount was originally intended to be $150 million, most of which was diverted to the Constellation program by Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL).[20] All 53 delivery milestones for the five companies were scheduled to be completed by the end of 2010.[11]

Proposals selected

NASA awarded development funds to five companies under CCDev 1:

  • Blue Origin - $3.7M for an innovative 'pusher' Launch Abort System (LAS) and composite pressure vessels.[21] As of February 2011, with the end of the second ground test, Blue Origin has completed all work envisioned under the contract for the pusher escape system. They have also "completed work on the other aspect of its award, risk reduction work on a composite pressure vessel" for their vehicle.[22]
  • Boeing - $18M for development of the CST-100 capsule[23] Demonstrated in October 2010. NASA's website shows all milestones as completed.[24]
  • Paragon Space Development Corporation - $1.4M for a plug-and-play environmental control and life support system (ECLSS) Air Revitalization System (ARS) Engineering Development Unit.[25] With "the completion of testing in mid-December [2010] of its Commercial Crew Transport Air Revitalization System, a life support system intended for use on [multiple different] commercial crew vehicles," Paragon has completed all work under the contract.[22]
  • Sierra Nevada Corporation - $20M for development of the Dream Chaser,[26] a reusable spaceplane vehicle that can transport cargo and up to eight people to low-Earth orbit.[27] Sierra Nevada completed its work under the contract in December 2010, with the structural testing of its engineering test article, its fourth and final milestone.[22]
  • United Launch Alliance - $6.7M for an Emergency Detection System (EDS) for human-rating its EELV launch vehicles.[28] In December ULA carried out a demonstration of its Emergency Detection System.[22] NASA's website shows all milestones as completed.[29]

Proposals received

During the evaluation phase of CCDev1 proposals were received from the following participants:[30]

CCDev 2

The construction of a Dragon crew mock-up was one of SpaceX's CCDev 2 milestones, it is seen here during an event

A second set of Commercial Crew Development proposals was sought by NASA in October 2010. These could be both new concepts and proposals that mature the design and development of system elements, such as launch vehicles and spacecraft. NASA originally planned to issue about $200 million of Space Act Agreements in March 2011.[4]

On April 18, 2011, NASA awarded nearly $270 million to four companies for developing U.S. vehicles that could fly astronauts after the Shuttle.[31]

In August 2011, NASA provided status on the progress milestones of each of the four companies developing crew vehicle technologies under CCDev 2.[32] There are nine to eleven specific milestones, spread over second quarter 2011 through second quarter 2012, that each company must meet in order to receive their "performance based" funding for CCDev 2.[33]

Proposals selected

Winners of funding in the second round of the Commercial Crew Development program, or CCDev, were as follows:[34]

Blue Origin proposed advancing technologies in support of a biconic nose cone design orbital vehicle, including launch abort systems and restartable LOX/LH2 (liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen) engines.[35] Not to be confused with the Blue Origin New Shepard VTVL spacecraft.[36] Blue Origin has since completed all of their CCDev 2 milestones.[37]
Sierra Nevada Corporation proposed for phase 2 extensions of its Dream Chaser spaceplane technology.[38] Like the Orbital Sciences proposal, the Dream Chaser was also a lifting body design.[39] Sierra Nevada will utilize Virgin Galactic to market Dream Chaser commercial services and will use Virgin’s WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft as a platform for drop trials of the Dream Chaser atmospheric test vehicle in 2012.[38][40][41]
SpaceX proposed[42] to develop an "integrated launch abort system design" for the Dragon spacecraft, with reputed advantages over the more traditional tractor tower approaches used on prior manned space capsules. The system would be part of their Draco maneuvering system, which is currently used on the Dragon capsule for in-orbit maneuvering and de-orbit burns.[43] SpaceX finished completing all of their CCDev 2 milestones by August 2012.[37]
Boeing proposed additional development for the 7-person CST-100 spacecraft, beyond the objectives for the $18 million received from NASA in CCDev 1. The capsule will have both personnel and cargo configurations, and is explicitly designed to be launched by multiple different rockets, and be reusable up to 10 times.[44]

Proposals selected without NASA funding

  • United Launch Alliance proposed to extend development work on human-rating the Atlas V rocket.[45] Although not selected for funding, NASA entered into an unfunded Space Act Agreement with ULA in July 2011 to share information towards human rating the Atlas V, which is the proposed launch rocket for the Blue Origin, Boeing and Sierra Nevada Corporation proposals.[46][47][48][49] ULA finished completing all of their CCDev 2 milestones by September 2012.[37]
  • ATK and Astrium proposed development of the Liberty rocket derived from Ares I and Ariane 5.[50] On September 13, 2011, it was reported that NASA intended to form at agreement with ATK to further develop the Liberty rocket as a heavy launch vehicle capable of launching humans into space. Although no funding is to be provided by NASA with this agreement, the agency will share expertise and technology.[51][52] ATK finished completing all of their CCDev 2 milestones by August 2012.[37]
  • Excalibur Almaz Inc. is developing a crewed system incorporating updated and modernized Soviet-era space hardware designs, intended for tourism flights to orbit. On October 26, 2011, NASA announced it had entered into an unfunded Space Act Agreement with EAI, establishing a framework to enable collaboration in furthering the development EAI's spacecraft concept for low Earth orbit crew transportation. EAI's concept for commercial crew to the International Space Station is to use the company's planned three-person space vehicle with an intermediate stage and fly the integrated vehicle on a commercially available launch vehicle.[53][54] Excalibur Almaz finished completing all of their CCDev 2 milestones by June 2012.[37]

Proposals not selected

Proposals that were not awarded funds in the second round of the Commercial Crew Development program, or CCDev, were as follows:

  • Orbital Sciences proposed the Prometheus lifting-body spaceplane vehicle, about one-quarter the size of the Space Shuttle.[55] The Vertical Takeoff, Horizontal Landing (VTHL) vehicle would be launched on a human-rated Atlas V rocket but would land on a runway.[56] The initial design would carry a crew of 4, but it could carry up to 6, or a combination of crew and cargo. In addition to Orbital Sciences, the consortium included Northrop Grumman, which would have built the spaceplane, and the United Launch Alliance, which would have provided the launch vehicle.[57] Virgin Galactic also confirmed that they would be teaming with Orbital on the Orbital CCDev 2 project.[40] Failing to be selected for a CCDev phase 2 award by NASA, Orbital announced in April 2011 that they will likely wind down their efforts to develop a commercial crew vehicle.[58]
  • Paragon Space Development Corporation proposed additional development of the Commercial Crew Transport-Air Revitalization System (CCT-ARS) program in 2011, to permit the building-out of the other parts of the Environmental Control and Life Support System to provide the complete solution for their commercial crew transport customers.[59]
  • t/Space proposed an eight-person crew or cargo recoverable reusable transfer spacecraft that could launch on a variety of launch vehicles, including the Atlas V, Falcon 9 and Taurus II.[60]
  • United Space Alliance proposed under a plan called Commercial Space Transportation Service, or CSTS, to fly commercially the two remaining Space Shuttle vehicles, Endeavour and Atlantis, twice a year from 2013 to 2017.[61]

Commercial Crew integrated Capability

Flight testing of the Dream Chaser Engineering Test Article was one of Sierra Nevada's CCiCap milestones

The Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative is the third round of the crew development program and was originally called CCDev 3.[62] For this phase of the program, NASA wanted proposals to be a complete end-to-end design, including spacecraft, launch vehicles, launch services, ground and mission operations and recovery. In September 2011, NASA released a draft request for proposals (RFP).[63]

The government contracting approach for CCiCap was originally intended to utilize a new contracting mechanism, one that differed from the Space Act Agreement fixed-price milestone-based contracts of the previous phases. As of October 2011, NASA was planning to award competitive contracts under the more traditional Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) system instead of using Space Act Agreements.[63] But after some months of planning for the switch to new style contracting approach, NASA announced in mid-December 2011 it would resume use of Space Act Agreements because of Congressional funding reductions to the program for Fiscal Year 2012.[64][65] FAR contracts are planned to be used for the certification of Commercial Transportation Services to the ISS.[66] The final RFP was released on February 7, 2012, with proposals due on March 23, 2012.[67][68]

The funded Space Act Agreements were awarded on August 3, 2012 and amended on August 15, 2013. CCiCap contracts were planned to be completed by August 2014.[5][69] NASA hopes that facilitating development of this U.S. capability will provide safe, reliable, and cost effective human transportation to Low-Earth Orbit (LEO).[62]

Proposals selected

Winners of funding in the third round of the Commercial Crew Development program, announced on August 3, 2012, were:[5]

Sierra Nevada Corporation proposed for further development of its Dream Chaser spaceplane/Atlas V system.
SpaceX proposed further development for the Dragon spacecraft/Falcon 9 system.
Boeing proposed further development for the CST-100 spacecraft/Atlas V system.

Proposals that passed acceptability screening

  • ATK - Liberty[70]

Proposals not selected

Development achievements

NASA reported that as of July 2014 Boeing had completed 18 of 20 its CCiCap milestones; Sierra Nevada had completed 10 of 13 its milestones; SpaceX completed 13 of 18 its milestones. SpaceX received an extra milestone that is to be completed by March 2015.[71] The milestones are listed in the appendixes to the Funded Space Act Agreements.[N 1][72]

In May 2014, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and Space Exploration Technologies completed reviews detailing how each plans to meet NASA's certification requirements to transport space station crew members to and from the ISS. This completes the first phase of certifying the new Crew Transportation Systems.[73]

Preparation for the next phase

In June 2014, Boeing announced that they intend to send out preliminary layoff notices to 215 employees—approximately 170 in Houston and 45 in Florida—to prepare for the possibility that Boeing would not be selected to continue the work into the next phase, following the expected NASA downselect in late-summer 2014. These advance notices to employees are required under the WARN legislation required under US law, and must be issued 60 days in advance of the time any large layoff is expected to take effect. If Boeing is selected to continue, the actual layoffs would not occur, and Boeing would intend to hire personnel for an additional 75 new positions. Sierra Nevada "is not preparing any WARN notices to its Dream Chaser workforce."[74]

Certification Products Contract (CPC) phase 1

The first phase of the Certification Products Contract (CPC) will involve the review of the integrated crew transportation systems through the creation of a certification plan that will result in the development of engineering standards, tests and analyses of the crew transportation systems designs.[75] This phase of CPC is expected to run from 22 January 2013 to 30 May 2014.[75]

Proposals selected

Winners of funding of phase 1 of the Certification Products Contract, announced on December 10, 2012, were:[75]

Certification Products Contract (CPC) phase 2

The second phase of the Certification Products Contract is expected to begin in mid-2014 and will involve a full and open competition.[75] It will include the final development, testing and verifications necessary to allow crewed demonstration flights to the ISS.[75] Phase 2 is called CCtCap.[76]

Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap)

NASA has proposed a next phase of a program to begin purchasing commercial astronaut transportation services with the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) solicitation. Contract award and funding are expected to begin in 2014, with no decision yet reached on how many commercial development efforts NASA may continue to fund. Flights of NASA astronauts on CCtCap-provided vehicles will occur no earlier than 2017.[77]

In a change from previous commercial crew development programs where commercial providers tested the developed technology to NASA contractual requirements, CCtCap will include "Joint Test Teams" (JTT) with NASA personnel operating in a more traditional NASA acquisition approach whereby NASA oversees some design choices, with the NASA offering non-firm-fixed-price 'cost sharing' to pay for the tests.[77]

The draft CCtCap contract Request For Proposals (RFP) was issued by NASA on July 19, 2013. The response date was August 15, 2013.[76]

According to the letter and Executive Summary:

  • "The Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract is the second phase of a 2-phased procurement strategy to develop a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability to achieve safe, reliable and cost effective access to and from the International Space Station (ISS) with a goal of no later than 2017."[78]:p. 4
  • Performance-based payments are to be used in this competitive negotiated acquisition.[78]:p. 1
  • Proposed deviation language to specific FAR and NFS clauses plus proposed clauses to be waive were suggested.[78]:p. 1
  • Under CCtCap the final Design, Development, Test, and Evaluation (DDTE) activities necessary to achieve NASA’s certification of a Crew Transportation System (CTS) will be conducted.[78]:p. 4
  • The contract will be issued under Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) Part 15 and will be Firm Fixed Price (FFP).[78]:p. 4

There are four separate Contract Line Items (CLINs) for CTS certification, ISS mission support, special studies, and additional cargo capability (if proposed).[78]:p. 4

NASA is to supply four Docking System Block 1 Units on a no charge-for-use basis. The first unit will be available in February 2016.[78]:p. 8

NASA held a Commercial Crew Pre-proposal Conference at Kennedy Space Center on December 4, 2013, after formally requesting proposals for CCtCap in late November.[79]

NASA's 2014 budget for CCtCap is US$696 million, reduced from an Obama Administration request of US$821 million.[77] As of January 2014, NASA has not yet decided whether to fund more than a single program.[77]

In May 2014, NASA announced that each awardee has to perform at least one crewed test flight to verify the spacecraft can dock to the space station and all its systems perform as expected. NASA intends to meet its station crew rotation requirements by including at least two, and as many as six, crewed, post-certification missions in the contracts.[80] NASA also intends that CCtCap will allow U.S. providers to supply other customers.[80]


On September 16, 2014, NASA announced that Boeing and SpaceX have received contracts to provide crewed launch services to the ISS. For completing the same contract requirements, Boeing can receive up to 4.2 billion dollars, while SpaceX can receive up to 2.6 billion dollars.[6] Both Boeing and SpaceX were awarded for the same set of requirements: completing development and certification of their crew vehicle, then flying up to six operational flights to the ISS following a certification flight. Both companies were guaranteed at least two of the operational flights.[81]

Total program award of US$6.8 billion covers both development costs through CCtCap program funding—US$3.42 billion over the years 2015-2019, with US$848 million in the commercial crew budget request for FY 2015—as well as US$3.4 billion for operational crew resupply to the ISS—12 flights with 4 astronauts on each flight where NASA assumed the same per-seat price of US$70.7 million that it will pay for each Soyuz seat in 2016.[81][82]

With the program awards in September, NASA did not release the number of proposals it received, nor any details about the selection process, but had stated that such information would be released "at an 'appropriate' but unspecified date."[81]

On September 26, 2014, Sierra Nevada Corporation submitted a protest of the CCtCap awards, stating to have undercut Boeing by $900 million, while scoring close to its competitors in the other criteria.[83] The GAO has until January 5, 2015 to rule on the protest.[84] On October 1, 2014, it was reported that NASA had instructed Boeing and SpaceX to halt work under the CCtCap contracts pending the Government Accountability Office's review; SpaceX has abort tests to complete under the previous CCiCap contract.[85] On October 8, 2014 NASA used its statutory authority to instruct Boeing and SpaceX to proceed with the contracts during the GAO review.[86]


The maiden flight of the SCN DreamChaser spacecraft on an Atlas V 412 is expected in November 2016.[87] The SpaceX Dragon V2.0 is to be launched on a Falcon 9 on TBD. The Boeing CST-100 is to be launched on a Atlas V 412 on TBD. The Blue Origin orbital Space Vehicle is to be launched on TBD.

Funding summary

The funding of all commercial crew contract awardees for each phase of the CCP program is as follows—not all monies have yet been released by NASA in the CCiCap or CPC1 phases—in millions of US$:

Funding Summary
Manufacturers of spacecraft
The Boeing Company 18.0 92.3 + 20.61 460.0 + 203 9.9 620.9
Blue Origin 3.7 22.0 25.7
Sierra Nevada Corporation 20.0 80.0 + 25.61 212.5 + 153 10.0 362.1
SpaceX 75.0 440.0 + 203 9.6 544.6
Excalibur Almaz 02 0
Manufacturers of launch vehicles
United Launch Alliance 6.7 0 6.7
Alliant Techsystems (ATK) 0 0
Paragon Space Development Corporation 1.4 1.4
Total: 49.8 315.5 1167.5 29.6 1507.4

1 Additional amount awarded in 2011.
2 Space Act Agreement signed in 2011 in the frame of CCDev2.[53]
3 Additional amount awarded in 2013.

See also


  1. ^ The Agreements and amendments are linked to from the CCiCap page of the NASA web site.[72]


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External links

  • Official NASA Commercial Crew Program page
  • Commercial Crew & Cargo Document Library on
  • CCDev 1 Space Act agreements
  • CCDev 2 Space Act agreements
  • CCiCap Space Act agreements
  • Partners Mature Spacecraft Designs, NASA video update, 14 January 2014.
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