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  NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program

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Author Topic:   NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program
Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-18-2006 04:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Selects Crew and Cargo Transportation to Orbit Partners

NASA selected SpaceX, El Segundo, Calif. and Rocketplane-Kistler, Oklahoma City, to develop and demonstrate commercial orbital transportation services that could open new markets and pave the way for contracts to launch and deliver crew and cargo to the International Space Station.

NASA and the two companies signed Space Act Agreements that establish milestones and objective criteria to assess their progress throughout Phase 1 of the competition. Once a capability is demonstrated, NASA plans to purchase crew and cargo delivery services competitively in Phase 2.

"NASA is proud to work with SpaceX and Rocketplane-Kistler as they endeavor to take American entrepreneurial spirit to new heights," said NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Scott Horowitz. "When commercial enterprises turn the journey to low-Earth orbit into a profit-making business model, NASA will be free to focus on goals that are more appropriate for government, such as exploration of the moon and Mars."

In Phase 1, the companies will demonstrate a combination of four capabilities: external (unpressurized) cargo delivery and disposal; internal (pressurized) cargo delivery and disposal; internal cargo delivery and return; and an option for crew transportation.

"These companies were selected from a total of 20 applicants, based on solid engineering of innovative concepts and sound business plans," said Alan Lindenmoyer, manager of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office at the Johnson Space Center, Houston.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-18-2006 04:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rocketplane Kistler release
Rocketplane Kistler (RpK) won a $207 million NASA award to demonstrate its capability to service the International Space Station (ISS). The Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract culminates in two flights to the ISS with first launch of RpK's K-1 launch vehicle in late 2008.

George French, RpK's CEO and Chairman of the Board said, "We are honored by NASA's selection, and for the opportunity to demonstrate our capabilities. The International Space Station is already a national and global asset. Commercializing ISS servicing multiplies its usefulness - maintaining a premier research facility, and stimulating space enterprise in Low Earth Orbit." French went on to state, "We were impressed by the thorough technical and financial due diligence by the Crew and Cargo Transportation Office [at Johnson Space Flight Center]. They scrubbed us and twenty-three other competitors to ensure NASA would gain a viable commercial company that could supply reliable delivery of cargo to space."

COTS demonstration flights will be conducted under a Space Act Agreement whereby Rocketplane Kistler will raise private funds to supplement NASA funding. RpK is already well along in first round financing, and will proceed with further financing rounds as the program progresses. The demonstration program will be followed by a competition to provide operational services to the ISS.

RpK President Randy Brinkley, former NASA manager for the ISS Program, said, "With Space Shuttle retirement, the commercialization of ISS servicing is a logical step to maintaining the Space Station and achieving NASA's broader goals. We are committed to providing end-to-end services for NASA and the ISS."

RpK leads a team that includes Orbital Sciences, ORBITEC, Lockheed Martin, Aerojet, Alenia Spazio, Oceaneering, Draper, Irvin Aerospace, Northrop Grumman, and other world class aerospace firms. RpK will establish a Houston office to support its COTS effort.

Rocketplane Kistler's K-1 launch system will also provide low cost space access for satellites and research payloads. Coupled with the company's suborbital XP Spaceplane, RpK is positioned to provide a wide diversity of suborbital and orbital space transportation services. The K-1's hardware is 75% complete, and is scheduled for first flight in 2008. The XP Spaceplane is 50% complete, and scheduled for first flight in late 2008.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-18-2006 04:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
National Space Society release
The National Space Society congratulates Space Exploration Technologies and Rocketplane Kistler on today's announcement that they had been chosen as the winners of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program.

"Make no mistake: COTS is crucial to the future of space exploration," said George Whitesides, Executive Director of NSS. "NASA is to be congratulated on making a wise investment in the potential of America's space entrepreneurs. Now, it is up to the winners to show that the COTS investment can pay off with affordable access to space."

The COTS program is budgeted for roughly $500 million through 2010, with the goal of demonstrating commercial space access to the International Space Station.

NSS also recognizes the tremendous work of the COTS competitors who were not selected. These teams have put forward concepts of great potential, and it is the hope of the NSS membership that these competitors find ways to implement their orbital plans.

Danno
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posted 01-17-2007 04:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Danno   Click Here to Email Danno     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This guy sums it up perfectly as I see it: The COTS Enigma
NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program has been widely hailed by the alt.space community as a breakthrough in US launch policy, but the numbers just don't add up. This project will be too late and too little to make a significant contribution to closing the post-Shuttle ISS supply gap - except perhaps as a slush fund to cover cost overruns in Orion/Ares.

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posted 09-10-2007 04:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Danno   Click Here to Email Danno     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Aviation Week: RpK's COTS Contract Terminated
NASA has informed Congress it is terminating its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement with Rocketplane Kistler (RpK) because the company has failed to meet financial milestones.

Aides said that after reviewing the company's performance, the space agency sent RpK formal notification Sept. 7 saying that additional activity under the agreement is "not in the best interest" of NASA.

I must say that I am not shocked.

collocation
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posted 09-11-2007 09:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for collocation   Click Here to Email collocation     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
MSNBC: Rocketplane faces funding crisis

Lunar rock nut
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posted 09-11-2007 10:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunar rock nut   Click Here to Email Lunar rock nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Former astronaut John Herrington is V.P. and Chief test pilot for Rocketplane here in Oklahoma. He has been on television advertisements for the Chickisaw Nation reflecting on his past experience as an astronaut locally. I had hoped they would make it when they survived the earlier cuts.

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posted 09-12-2007 04:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Danno   Click Here to Email Danno     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space News:
NASA Plans New COTS Competition if it Terminates Rocketplane Kistler Deal
NASA said Sept. 10 that it would hold a competition for $175 million in unspent funds should the U.S. space agency terminate Rocketplane Kistler's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement. The competition would be open to all comers, NASA spokeswoman Melissa Mathews said, including Rocketplane Kistler.

Mathews said the U.S. space agency formally notified RpK Sept. 7 "that the company has failed to perform under its Space Act Agreement" and is in jeopardy of having its COTS agreement terminated. The notice was given in the form of a letter signed by Scott Horowitz, NASA associate administrator for exploration systems. Mathews said the COTS agreement requires NASA to provide such notice at least 30 days in advance of terminating the agreement for "failure to perform," such as missing agreed-upon milestones.

"NASA has not terminated its relationship with RpK and has not finalized a decision whether to do so," she said.

Several firms already have told NASA they would be interested in competing for COTS funding, while Space Exploration Technologies has appealed to the agency to give it RpK's unspent money in order to accelerate development of a crewed capability. Among the firms interested in a new COTS competition are five companies that signed unfunded Space Act Agreements with NASA this year, which entitles the agency to keep them abreast of changing COTS requirements. These companies are Chicago-based PlanetSpace, Reston, Va.-based Transformation Space Corp., Woodland Hills, Calif.-based Constellation Services International; Poway, Calif.-based SpaceDev, and Houston-based Spacehab.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-19-2007 01:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA to Open New Competition for Space Transportation Seed Money

NASA announced Thursday it will conduct a new competition for funding that remains in NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Project, known as COTS.

The new competition follows NASA's decision to terminate its funded agreement with aerospace firm Rocketplane Kistler of Oklahoma City, which repeatedly failed to meet agreed-upon milestones in its effort to develop and demonstrate commercial transportation capabilities to low Earth orbit. NASA informed Rocketplane Kistler Thursday of its decision in a letter signed by Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Rick Gilbrech.

"NASA remains fully committed to the COTS Project," said Alan Lindenmoyer, who as manager of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office oversees the COTS Project.

"We'll be releasing a synopsis for the new competition Friday and the full announcement for a new round of industry proposals on Monday."

Companies will have 30 days to respond to Monday's announcement, and NASA intends to enter into one or more new COTS agreements early next year. Companies that are U.S. commercial providers, as defined in the Commercial Space Act, will be eligible.

COTS provides seed money to companies when they reach performance milestones to help them design and develop space transportation capabilities that could pave the way for private cargo deliveries to the International Space Station. Of the $206.8 million NASA agreed to invest in Rocketplane Kistler, the company received a total of $32.1 million. The remaining $174.7 million will be offered to aerospace firms in a new competition.

"A vibrant commercial space industry will help NASA fulfill its promise to support the International Space Station, retire the space shuttle and return humans to the moon," Lindenmoyer said.

In 2006, NASA chose two companies to receive COTS funding: Rocketplane Kistler and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, of El Segundo, Calif. Both companies signed Space Act Agreements with the agency that detailed mutually agreed-upon financial and technical milestones, as well as a payment schedule based on those requirements.

In late May, Rocketplane Kistler missed the fourth milestone, a second round of private financing, in its COTS agreement. After months of discussions with the company, NASA officially notified Rocketplane Kistler in early September of its failure to perform. The agency decided to terminate the Rocketplane Kistler agreement when, after careful consideration, NASA concluded that further efforts were not in the agency's best interest. NASA followed the process for termination that was spelled out in the Space Act Agreement.

NASA's other funded COTS partner, SpaceX, is current on all of its financial and technical milestones. NASA also has unfunded COTS agreements with five other companies.

hlbjr
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posted 01-21-2008 01:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hlbjr   Click Here to Email hlbjr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Found this article on Flight International's website today. I wonder which pad it will use?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-12-2008 03:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Announces COTS Phase I Demonstrations Selection

NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate managers will host a media teleconference Tuesday, Feb. 19, to announce the names of one or more companies selected to develop and demonstrate commercial orbital transportation services.

Doug Cooke, NASA deputy associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, and Alan Lindenmoyer, manager of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, will lead the briefing.

The company or companies selected will enter into funded Space Act agreements with NASA under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Project, known as COTS. The key objectives of the program are to facilitate U.S. private industry development of reliable, cost effective access to low Earth orbit and to create a market environment in which commercial space transportation services are available to government and private sector customers.

Live audio from the briefing will be available.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-19-2008 05:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Partners With Orbital Sciences for Space Transport Services
NASA selected Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Va., to develop and demonstrate commercial orbital transportation services that could open new markets and pave the way for contracts to launch and deliver crew and cargo to the International Space Station.

NASA and Orbital Sciences signed a funded Space Act Agreement under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Project, known as COTS. The new partner will receive approximately $170 million in federal funds to supplement its privately-funded efforts.

Through COTS, NASA is facilitating U.S. private industry development of reliable, cost- effective access to low Earth orbit. The intent is to create a market environment in which commercial space transportation services are available to government and private sector customers.

"NASA plans to get out of low Earth orbit and focus on going back to the moon to prepare explorers for a future voyage to Mars," said Rick Gilbrech, associate administrator for NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, Washington. "Being able to buy safe, reliable and economical service to low Earth orbit will help us achieve our national goals."

The selection of Orbital Sciences brings to seven the number of partners in which NASA is investing through COTS. NASA selected SpaceX of El Segundo, Calif., as a partner in August 2006. NASA is partnering with an additional five companies through unfunded agreements.

NASA is providing approximately $500 million to stimulate the commercial space transportation market and help develop safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from low Earth orbit.

"Our investment in the space transportation industry holds just as much promise for the future as government's investment in the railroads and airlines produced in the past," said Alan Lindenmoyer, manager of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston. "Like any wise investor would, we chose a transportation provider whose innovative concept is based on solid engineering and a sound business plan."

The Space Act Agreement establishes milestones and objective criteria to assess the company's progress throughout Phase 1 of the COTS Project. Partners with funded agreements receive payment for achieving agreed-upon milestones.

In Phase 1, companies will demonstrate one or more of four capabilities: external, unpressurized cargo delivery and disposal; internal, pressurized cargo delivery and disposal; internal, pressurized cargo delivery and return; and an option for crew transportation. NASA plans to purchase cargo resupply services competitively in Phase 2.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-22-2008 12:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA to Announce Space Station Resupply Services Contract

NASA will host a media teleconference with Associate Administrator for Space Operations Bill Gerstenmaier at 4 p.m. EST, Tuesday, Dec. 23, to discuss the contract selection for commercial cargo resupply services for the International Space Station.

NASA released a Request for Proposal on April 14 for the cargo needs of the space station beyond those supplied by current international agreements. NASA will depend on commercial resupply for reliable, safe and cost effective cargo delivery services to the station.

The Commercial Resupply Services procurement will include requirements for launch services, orbital rendezvous and berthing with a crewed spacecraft, delivery of internal and/or external cargo, unberthing and deorbit, and disposal or return of internal cargo.

The teleconference will be broadcast live.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-23-2008 05:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Awards Space Station Commercial Resupply Services Contracts

NASA has awarded two contracts -- one to Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., and one to Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif. -- for commercial cargo resupply services to the International Space Station. At the time of award, NASA has ordered eight flights valued at about $1.9 billion from Orbital and 12 flights valued at about $1.6 billion from SpaceX.

These fixed-price indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts will begin Jan. 1, 2009, and are effective through Dec. 31, 2016. The contracts each call for the delivery of a minimum of 20 metric tons of upmass cargo to the space station. The contracts also call for delivery of non-standard services in support of the cargo resupply, including analysis and special tasks as the government determines are necessary.

NASA has set production milestones and reviews on the contracts to monitor progress toward providing services. The maximum potential value of each contract is about $3.1 billion. Based on known requirements, the value of both contracts combined is projected at $3.5 billion.

These agreements will fulfill NASA's need to procure cargo delivery services to the space station using a U.S. commercial carrier after the retirement of the space shuttle.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 12-24-2008 06:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't understand why the ESA Jules Verne ATV (a PROVEN and higher capacity vehicle) doesn't feature in this. Is it frequency of flights? Pricing? Or political/national expediency?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-24-2008 11:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
ESA's ATV and Japan's HTV, as well as Russia's Progress vehicles, will continue to launch supplies to the International Space Station. However, with the absence of the space shuttle in a few years, they alone cannot meet the complete demands of the ISS.

If your question is why NASA didn't just purchase more ATV flights from ESA, the same question could be turned around to ask why ESA is now looking to develop a crewed version of the ATV. While international cooperation is admirable, there will always be a desire for self-sufficiency.

Further, the U.S. government's support for Orbital's Cygnus-Taurus and SpaceX's Dragon-Falcon will bolster those companies' abilities to support missions beyond the needs of the government, to private enterprise as well. As with any commercial industry, it is within the interest of the nation to see their own companies' succeed.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-02-2009 07:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
WSJ: NASA May Face Protest Over Recent Commercial-Cargo Contract
A possible contract squabble threatens to complicate U.S. government plans to rely on commercial-cargo operators who would launch rockets to supply the International Space Station early in the next decade.

A contractor team led by startup PlanetSpace Inc., which includes Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Alliant Techsystems Inc. is considering filing a protest over a contract worth as much as $1.9 billion that was awarded last month to Orbital Sciences Corp., according to people familiar with the details.

...The losing bidder hasn't made a final decision, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is slated to brief competitors as early as next on the reasons behind its decision. But PlanetSpace officials, according to these people, already are consulting with lawyers and believe they may have legal grounds to challenge the agency's selection.

A NASA source selection panel ranked Orbital's overall proposal and its projected costs less favorably than bids submitted by the PlanetSpace team and a third bidder, Space Exploration Technologies Inc, according to one person familiar with the details.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-15-2009 12:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
PlanetSpace release
PlanetSpace has Filed with the GAO a Protest to the Selection Decision of NASA Under the ISS Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) Competition

PlanetSpace has filed with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) a protest to the selection decision of NASA under the ISS Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) competition, RFP NNJ08ZBG001R.

After a careful review of all the facts and in consideration of all of the source selection documentation provided to date, PlanetSpace has filed a protest to NASA's award of the ISS Commercial Resupply Services Contract. PlanetSpace offered a superior proposal. It received a higher Mission Suitability score, from NASA's Source Evaluation Board (SEB), and was lower in Cost than one of the two proposals selected by NASA. Thus, the PlanetSpace proposal represented better value to the Government. We believe that the GAO will find that flaws in the procurement justify award to PlanetSpace. We look forward to the GAO's review of this case.

PlanetSpace has assembled a subcontract team, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing and ATK, with over 150 years of collective experience in supporting NASA spaceflight programs. The resources and record of this team were recognized by the SEB, as it gave the subcontractors an "excellent" mark for their "Past Performance." The commitment and capabilities of the team reduce risk to NASA and will ensure success of the critical mission of assured resupply to the Space Station. Further favoring selection of PlanetSpace, we have proposed an "ALL-U.S." solution for CRS - something that ought to be a domestic priority in light of current economic conditions.

The PlanetSpace ISS CRS proposal provides NASA, and the United States taxpayer, with a credible space transportation system, derived from largely proven hardware, so that NASA will have highly reliable, on-demand, ISS cargo delivery and return services. Our solution reduces ISS resupply risk to NASA and thus will allow NASA to focus its resources on other space priorities, such as moving America's space program beyond low earth orbit.

PlanetSpace will make no other statements publicly regarding this protest at this time. The law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP acts as protest counsel for PlanetSpace.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-29-2009 11:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Orlando Sentinel: PlanetSpace loses protest over NASA contract award
PlanetSpace Inc - which lost out on NASA’s 3.5 billion dollar Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract last year - failed in their bid to have the award decision reversed, according to the GAO website.

...GAO's website said that it had denied their protest on Wednesday April 22, 2009.

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