Space Commerce

NASA Issues RFP For Low Earth Orbit Commercialization

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
May 17, 2018
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NASA Issues RFP For Low Earth Orbit Commercialization
ISS Transits The Moon

NASA has released a research announcement requesting proposals to study the future of human spaceflight commercialization in low-Earth orbit.
The research announcement solicits industry concepts detailing business plans and viability for habitable platforms, whether using the International Space Station or a separate free-flying structure, that would enable a space economy in low-Earth orbit in which NASA is one of many customers. Concepts should identify ways to stimulate demand for commercial low-Earth orbit services with a goal to sustain the space marketplace. Additionally, the study seeks industry input about the role of government and evolution of the space station in the process of transitioning U.S. human spaceflight activities to a non-governmental commercial human spaceflight enterprise in low-Earth orbit.

As described in its International Space Station Transition Report, NASA will continue to have a need in low-Earth orbit for regular crewed operations, long-term technology development and demonstrations, space and life sciences research, and opportunities for astrophysics, space, and Earth science research. Access to an orbital platform on which to conduct these activities will be key as NASA and its commercial and international partners prepare for crewed missions to the Moon and beyond.

Proposals are due in 30 days and should outline the technical concept as well as a business case and the evolving role of government. Participation in this solicitation is open to all categories of U.S. organizations, including industry, educational institutions and nonprofit institutions. NASA anticipates awarding multiple four-month, fixed priced contracts, not to exceed $1 million per award. Selection is expected to take place in July with the final reports delivered to NASA in the December timeframe.

NASA’s successful investment with a strong and continually growing U.S. space industry in low-Earth orbit allows the agency to focus on farther horizons as private companies continue successfully providing cargo resupply missions to low-Earth orbit and move purposefully toward once again launching astronauts from American soil. This commercial low-Earth orbit NASA Research Announcement is the next step in enabling a low-Earth orbit space marketplace.

Full details of the solicitation, 80JSC018LEOCOM, including guidelines for proposals, can be found at: and

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.