Commercial Crew Program logo - white background

Commercial Crew Program logo

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 that is funded by the U.S. government and administered by NASA. The program is intended to stimulate development of privately operated crew vehicles to be launched into low Earth orbit. The program is run by NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO).[1] William Gerstenmaier, NASA's Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, stated in 2012 it was likely only one competitor would be chosen to deliver crew to the International Space Station (ISS);[2]Template:Importance inline the chosen spacecraft is expected to begin doing so around 2017.[3]

In 2010, in the first phase of the program, NASA provided $50 million combined to five American companies; the money was intended for research and development into private-sector human spaceflight concepts and technologies. NASA solicited a second set of CCdev proposals for technology development projects lasting for a maximum of 14 months in October the same year.[4] In April 2011, NASA announced they would award up to nearly $270 million to four companies as they met their CCDev 2 objectives.

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


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

  • Deliver and return four crew members and their equipment to International Space Station (ISS);[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 overviewEdit

STS-135 Harmony's hatch with U.S. flag - closeup - cropped

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

The NASA CCDev program followed Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS), a program for developing commercial launch capability to send cargo into low Earth orbit. In December 2009, NASA provided the following description of the CCDev program:[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 of 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.[10]

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.[10]

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.[10]

Contract funding for the CCDev program is different from traditional space industry contractor funding used on the Space Shuttle, Apollo, Gemini, and Mercury programs. Contracts are explicitly designed to fund 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 scheduleEdit

CCP Budget requests

Requested vs appropriated funding by year

The first flight of the CCDev program was planned to occur in 2015, but insufficient funding caused delays.[12][13] Administrator of NASA Charles Bolden attributed the delays to insufficient funding from Congress.[14][15] Michael López-Alegría, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, also attributed the delays in the program to funding problems.[16]

For the fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget, US$500 million was requested for the CCDev program, but Congress granted only $270 million.[17] For the FY 2012 budget, $850 million was requested but Congress approved a budget of $406 million, and as a result the first flight of CCDev was postponed from 2016 to 2017.[13] For the 2013 budget, 830 million was requested but Congress approved $488 million.[18] For the FY 2014 budget, $821 million was requested, Congress approved $696 million.[12][dated info][19] In FY 2015, NASA received $805 million from Congress for the CCDev program; 95% of the $848 million requested by the Obama administration and the largest annual amount since the beginning of the program.[20]


CCDev 1Edit

CST-100 pressure vessel

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 space flight. 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 with the intention of fostering research and development into human spaceflight concepts and technologies in the private sector.[10][21][22] 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).[23] All 53 delivery milestones for the five companies were scheduled to be completed by the end of 2010.[11]

Proposals selectedEdit

NASA awarded development funds to five companies under CCDev 1:

Proposals receivedEdit

During the evaluation phase of CCDev1 proposals were received from the following participants:[33] Template:Multicol


| | |


CCDev 2Edit

DragonRider Mock-up - Musk and Bolden

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

NASA sought a second set of Commercial Crew Development proposals 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 Space Shuttle fleet's retirement.[34]

In August the same year, NASA provided status on the progress milestones of the four companies developing crew vehicle technologies under CCDev 2.[35] There are nine-to-eleven specific milestones, spread over the second quarter of 2011 through to the second quarter of 2012, that each company must meet to receive their performance-based funding for CCDev 2.[36]

Proposals selectedEdit

Winners of funding in the second round of the CCDev were:[37]

  • Blue Origin, Kent, Washington: $22 million. Blue Origin proposed advancing technologies in support of a biconic nose cone design orbital vehicle, including launch abort systems and restartable, liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen engines.[38][39] Blue Origin has since completed all of its CCDev 2 milestones.[40] In November 2014, NASA announced three additional unfunded milestones, which include further testing of Blue Origin’s propellant tank, BE-3 engine and pusher escape system.[41]
  • Sierra Nevada Corporation, Louisville, Colorado: $80 million. Sierra Nevada Corporation proposed four phase 2 extensions of its Dream Chaser spaceplane technology.[42] Like the Orbital Sciences proposal, the Dream Chaser was also a lifting body design.[43] Sierra Nevada will use 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.[42][44][45]
  • Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), Hawthorne, California: $75 million. SpaceX proposed[46] to develop an "integrated launch abort system design" for the Dragon spacecraft, with theoretical advantages over the more traditional tractor tower approaches used on earlier manned space capsules. The system would be part of SpaceX's Draco maneuvering system, which is currently used on the Dragon capsule for in-orbit maneuvering and de-orbit burns.[47] SpaceX completed its CCDev 2 milestones by August 2012.[40]
  • The Boeing Company, Houston, Texas: $92.3 million. Boeing proposed additional development for the seven-person CST-100 spacecraft, beyond the objectives for the $18 million received from NASA in CCDev 1. The capsule will have personnel and cargo configurations, and is designed to be launched by multiple different rockets and be reusable up to 10 times.[48]

Proposals selected without NASA fundingEdit

  • United Launch Alliance proposed to extend development work on human-rating the Atlas V rocket.[49] Although not selected for funding, NASA entered into an unfunded Space Act Agreement with ULA in July 2011 to share information with the goal of advancing the development of the rocket, which is the proposed launch vehicle for the Blue Origin, Boeing and Sierra Nevada Corporation proposals.[50][51][52][53] ULA finished completing all of their CCDev 2 milestones by September 2012.[40]
  • ATK and Astrium proposed development of the Liberty rocket derived from the Ares I and Ariane 5.[54] 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, the agency will share expertise and technology.[55][56] ATK finished completing all of its CCDev 2 milestones by August 2012.[40]
  • Excalibur Almaz Inc. is developing a crewed system incorporating 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 collaborate to further develop EAI's spacecraft concept for low Earth orbit crew transportation. EAI's concept for commercial crew to the ISS 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.[57][58] Excalibur Almaz finished completing all of their CCDev 2 milestones by June 2012.[40]

Proposals not selectedEdit

Proposals that were not awarded funds in the second round of the CCDev program were:

  • Orbital Sciences proposed the Prometheus lifting-body spaceplane vehicle, about one-quarter the size of the Space Shuttle.[59] The Vertical Takeoff, Horizontal Landing (VTHL) vehicle would be launched on a human-rated Atlas V rocket but would land on a runway.[60] The initial design would carry a crew of four, but it could carry up to six people or a combination of crew and cargo. In addition to Orbital Sciences, the consortium included Northrop Grumman that would have built the spaceplane and the United Launch Alliance that would have provided the launch vehicle.[61] Virgin Galactic also confirmed it would be teaming with Orbital on the Orbital CCDev 2 project.[44] After failing to be selected for a CCDev phase 2 award by NASA, Orbital announced in April 2011 it would likely wind down its efforts to develop a commercial crew vehicle.[62]
  • 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 Systems to provide the complete solution for its commercial crew transport customers.[63]
  • t/Space proposed a recoverable, reusable, eight-person crew or cargo transfer spacecraft that could launch on a variety of launch vehicles including the Atlas V, Falcon 9 and Taurus II rockets.[64]
  • United Space Alliance proposed under a plan called Commercial Space Transportation Service (CSTS) to fly commercially the two remaining Space Shuttle vehicles, Endeavour and Atlantis, twice a year from 2013 to 2017.[65]

Commercial Crew integrated CapabilityEdit

Dream Chaser pre-drop tests.3

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 CCdev program and was originally called CCDev 3.[66] For this phase of the program, NASA wanted proposals to be complete, end-to-end designs including spacecraft, launch vehicles, launch services, ground and mission operations, and recovery. In September 2011, NASA released a draft request for proposals (RFP).[67]

The U.S. government's was originally intended to use a new contracting mechanism for CCiCap that differed from the Space Act Agreement's 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.[67] After some months of planning for the 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.[68][69] NASA planned to use FAR contracts for the certification of Commercial Transportation Services to the ISS.[70] The final RFP was released on February 7, 2012, with proposals due on March 23, 2012.[71][72]

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][73] NASA hoped facilitating development of this U.S. capability will provide safe, reliable and cost effective human transportation to low-Earth orbit (LEO).[66]

Proposals selectedEdit

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

Proposals that passed acceptability screeningEdit

Proposals not selectedEdit

Development achievementsEdit

NASA reported that as of November 2014, Boeing had completed its CCiCap milestones;[41] Sierra Nevada had completed 10 of 13 its milestones; SpaceX had completed 13 of 18 its milestones. SpaceX received an extra milestone that is to be completed by March 2015.[75] The milestones are listed in the appendixes to the Funded Space Act Agreements.Template:Refn[76] In May 2014, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Space Exploration Technologies completed reviews detailing plans to meet NASA's certification requirements to transport crew members to and from the ISS. This completes the first phase of certifying the new Crew Transportation Systems.[77]

Preparation for the next phaseEdit

In June 2014, Boeing announced it intended to send out preliminary lay-off 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 work into the next phase following the expected NASA shortlist in mid-2014. These advance notices are required under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) legislation under U.S. law, and must be issued 60 days before any large lay-off is expected to take effect. If Boeing was selected to continue, the lay-offs would not occur and Boeing would hire an additional 75 personnel. Sierra Nevada "is not preparing any WARN notices to its Dream Chaser workforce".[78]

Certification Products Contract (CPC) phase 1Edit

The first phase of the Certification Products Contract (CPC) involved the review of the integrated crew transportation systems through the creation of a certification plan that would result in the development of engineering standards, tests and analyses of the systems' designs.[79] This phase of CPC was expected to run from January 22, 2013, to May 30, 2014.[79]

Proposals selectedEdit

Winners of funding of phase 1 of the CPC, announced on December 10, 2012, were:[79]

  • Sierra Nevada Corporation, Louisville, Colorado: $10 million.
  • Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), Hawthorne, California: $9.6 million.
  • The Boeing Company, Houston, Texas: $9.9 million.

Certification Products Contract (CPC) phase 2Edit

The second phase of the CPC was expected to begin in mid-2014; it would involve a full and open competition and would include the final development, testing and verifications to allow crewed demonstration flights to the ISS.[79] Phase 2 is called Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap).[80] NASA proposed the second phase of the program would begin purchasing commercial astronaut transportation services with the CCtCap solicitation. Contract award and funding occurred in 2014; flights of NASA astronauts on CCtCap-provided vehicles would not occur before 2017.[81] In a change from previous CCDev 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 traditional NASA acquisition approach in which NASA oversees some design choices and offers flexible-price cost-sharing to pay for the tests.[81] NASA issued the draft CCtCap contract's Request For Proposals (RFP) on July 19, 2013; the response date was August 15, 2013.[80]

According to the letter and Executive Summary:

  • "The [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 [ISS] with a goal of no later than 2017".[82]:p. 4
  • Performance-based payments are to be used in this competitive, negotiated acquisition.[82]:p. 1
  • Proposed deviation language to specific FAR and NFS clauses and proposed waiving of clauses were suggested.[82]: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.[82]:p. 4 The contract will be issued under Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) Part 15 and will be Firm Fixed Price (FFP).[82]:p. 4

There are four separate Contract Line Items (CLINs) for CTS certification; ISS mission support, special studies and additional cargo capability if proposed.[82]:p. 4 NASA was to supply four Docking System Block 1 Units on a no-charge-for-use basis. The first unit would be available in February 2016.[82]: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 that year.[83]

NASA's 2014 budget for CCtCap was Template:USD; it was reduced from an Obama Administration request of Template:USD.[81] In May 2014, NASA announced each awardee was to perform at least one crewed test flight to verify the spacecraft could dock with the ISS and all its systems performed as expected. NASA intended to meet its station crew rotation requirements by including at least two, and ato most six crewed, post-certification missions in the contracts.[84] NASA also intended CCtCap would allow U.S. providers to supply other customers.[84]


On September 16, 2014, NASA announced that Boeing and SpaceX had received contracts to provide crewed launch services to the ISS. For completing the same contract requirements, Boeing could receive up to US$4.2 billion, while SpaceX could receive up to US$2.6 billion.[6] Both Boeing CST-100 flying on United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V and SpaceX Dragon V2 flying on Falcon 9 were awarded for the same set of requirements: completing development and certification of their crew vehicle then flying a certification flight followed by up to six operational flights to the ISS. The contracts included at least two operational flights for each company.[85]

The total program award of US$6.8 billion covers development costs through CCtCap program funding—$3.42 billion over the years 2015-2019 with $848 million in the commercial crew budget request for FY 2015—and $3.4 billion for operational crew resupply to the ISS—12 flights with four astronauts on each flight, where NASA assumed the same per-seat price of $70.7 million it would pay for each Soyuz seat in 2016.[85][86] With the program awards in September, NASA did not release the number of proposals it received or any details about the selection process; it stated such information would be released "at an 'appropriate' but unspecified date".[85]

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.[87] The Government Accountability Office (GAO) had until January 5, 2015, to rule on the protest.[88] By October 1, 2014, NASA had instructed Boeing and SpaceX to halt work on the CCtCap contracts.[89] On October 8, 2014, NASA instructed the contractors to proceed with contract work during the GAO review.[90] In January 2015, the GAO denied Sierra Nevada Corporation's protest.[91]

CCtCap contract progressEdit

As of December 2014, both SpaceX and Boeing had started work on their Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts.[92]


As of February 2016, the SpaceX Dragon V2.0 was scheduled to carry out an in-flight abort test in 2016, followed by an unmanned test flight to the ISS in 2017.[93] Following this, a manned test flight should launch in 2017. The Boeing CST-100 is scheduled for an unmanned test flight in April 2017, followed by a manned test flight in July that year. The first contracted crew delivery, known as USCV-1, is tentatively scheduled for late 2017.[94] On May 28, 2015, NASA awarded Boeing the first contract to launch a crew to the ISS with the CST-100 spacecraft under the CCtCap initiative. The launch, tentatively scheduled for late 2017, is provisional on its certification.[95]

Funding summaryEdit

The funding of all commercial crew contractors for each phase of the CCP program is as follows—CCtCap values are maxima and include post-development operational flights

Funding Summary (millions of US$)
CCtCap[86] Total
Manufacturers of spacecraft
The Boeing Company 18.0 92.3 + 20.61 460.0 + 203 9.9 4,200.0 4,820.9
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 2,600.0 3,144.6
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 1,167.5 29.6 6,800.0 8,307.4

1 Additional amount awarded in 2011.
2 Space Act Agreement signed in 2011 in the frame of CCDev2.[57]
3 Additional amount awarded in 2013.

See alsoEdit


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External linksEdit

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