Status Report

NASA: Enhanced Strategy for the Development of Space Commerce (Draft)

By SpaceRef Editor
September 24, 2001
Filed under , ,

NOTE: this is a draft document


VISION: NASA will accelerate the development of robust commerce in space to improve the quality of life on Earth.

The United States will achieve greater benefit from its investment in NASA space exploration, research, and technology through expanded development of space commerce. This vision will be realized as NASA increases collaboration in space commerce with a variety of industry, academia, and non-profit organizations.

Space commerce activities are characterized by the provision of goods and services such that:

  • Private capital is at risk
  • There are existing, or potential, non-governmental customers, who together constitute a significant portion of the business base
  • Viability of the activity is ultimately determined by the commercial market
  • Primary responsibility and management initiative for the activity resides with the private sector

This document sets forth a space commerce strategy for all of NASA, with an initial focus on the efforts to develop commercial uses of space in low-Earth orbit. Toward this end, NASA will facilitate the further development of space commerce by sharing knowledge, facilities, and access with the private sector. NASA will seek to become an important customer for private sector provided space goods and services that serve a specific NASA need. NASA will dedicate Agency resources in partnership with private sector ventures when these activities advance substantial NASA mission objectives.

A core NASA mission is “to advance the human exploration, use, and development of space” to benefit the quality of life on Earth. Increasing the scale and diversity of commercial activity in space is essential to fulfilling this mission.

To promote the development of robust space commerce, NASA will implement the following strategic goals:

Goal 1: Remove barriers to space commerce

Goal 2: Use market tools and commercial strategies in furtherance of NASA’s mission and strategic plan

Goal 3: Provide opportunities for new commercial space markets

Goal 4: Support free and fair trade in space goods and services

Goal 5: Strategically align NASA participation in commercial activities with the Agency’s mission and values

To achieve these goals, NASA will:

  • Ensure that the conduct of commercial space activity is consistent with the safe and successful accomplishment of the NASA mission
  • Establish organizational structures within the Agency to support the development of space commerce
  • Dedicate sufficient Agency resources and capabilities to accord appropriate priority for commercial business opportunities
  • Encourage cultural change by establishing incentives for Agency employees
  • Transition space activities not involving inherently governmental functions to non-governmental organizations, as soon as practicable

Opportunities to foster the commercial use of space exist in all of the NASA Enterprises and program areas. These opportunities can be categorized into five sectors: technology, research, infrastructure and facilities, media and communications, and space travel and exploration. By leveraging NASA research, technology and resources with private sector financing, infrastructure, and markets, strategic alliances can be created. These strategic alliances can facilitate successful commercial space activities and enable the development of next generation technologies and space capabilities. The emergence of viable commercial business operations in space will allow NASA to focus increased resources on the higher risk activities that the private sector is unable to pursue.

NASA is dedicated to exploring the frontiers of air and space. Development of viable and robust space commerce is essential for NASA to retain its world leadership position in the 21st Century. I challenge all NASA employees to join me in enabling and encouraging increased development of space commerce over the months and years ahead. Our future as an Agency and a Nation depends upon your contribution to these efforts.

Daniel S. Goldin

NASA Administrator


Commercial space sector activities are characterized by the provision of goods and services, where the commercial market ultimately determines the viability of the activity. NASA will implement the following strategic goals and objectives to enable and encourage the increased commercial development and use of space:

Goal 1: Remove barriers to space commerce

Objective 1: Implement an expedited process to maximize commercial access to NASA’s space resources

  • Minimize and simplify technical interface requirements
  • Ensure safety while streamlining the approval processes
  • Consider alternative methods of compliance
  • Maximize flexibility in response to changing business priorities, evolving market conditions, and breakthroughs in space technology

Objective 2: Establish selection criteria and implement a process for prioritizing requests by the private sector for use of NASA resources

  • Maintain an appropriately balanced portfolio of industrial research, commercial activities, and government and university basic and applied research
  • Assign priority to ventures that are funded with private capital and that have credible plans to become self-sustaining on the basis of private markets
  • Emphasize activities that advance NASA’s mission, and are consistent with national policy and congressional direction

Objective 3: Accelerate commercial activities through streamlined and proactive management processes

  • Simplify management processes for commercial activities

  • Facilitate the identification and mitigation of regulatory, procedural, or cultural obstacles to space commerce

  • Increase proactive communication with the private sector to understand their needs and real or perceived obstacles, and inform them of NASA’s activities

Objective 4: Conduct government activities that have commercial applications in a manner that embraces, rather than deters, space commerce, except for reasons of national security or public safety

  • Purchase, to the fullest extent feasible, commercially available space goods and services that are cost-effective, reliable, and fulfill specific NASA needs
  • Invest in and seek partnerships in the types of long-term and/or high-risk research and innovative technology in which commercial providers do not invest at such an early stage
  • Preserve a “level playing field” by avoiding inappropriate competition between for-profit commercial companies and non-profit or governmentally subsidized entities

Goal 2: Use market tools and commercial strategies in furtherance of NASA’s mission and strategic plan

Objective 1: Align Agency management practices in space commerce activities with best commercial market practices, and identify obstacles to accomplishing this and develop plans to mitigate such obstacles

Objective 2: Establish strategic alliances with industry partners, including non-traditional, non-aerospace industries, such as biotechnology, information technology, entertainment, and multimedia

Objective 3: Establish a sponsorship organization and program utilizing outside expertise

Objective 4: Develop an orderly and phased approach to secure a non-governmental organization that will effectively manage the U.S. portion of ISS utilization, recognizing that this may only be an initial step toward privatization, given the international and evolutionary character of the ISS

Objective 5: Consult with Congress and the Administration in seeking additional legislation, as required and appropriate, to obtain the authority required to enable the Agency to pursue specific initiatives in support of space commerce

Goal 3: Provide opportunities for new commercial space markets

Objective 1: Establish a process to assist the private sector with the development of human-qualified space transportation systems and orbital facilities by sharing NASA’s extensive archives of technical data and providing access to other appropriate support, as requested

Objective 2: Assign priority to commercial collaborations that expand or enable research in space

Objective 3: Encourage and assist proof-of-concept commercial activities across the five sectors in a broad range of markets and among diverse entities

Objective 4: Enable and encourage innovative commercial activities that support education and outreach

Objective 5: Establish a program to provide space flight opportunities for persons who are not career astronauts and cosmonauts that fulfills specific purposes in support of NASA’s core mission objectives

Objective 6: Exercise appropriate due diligence when committing NASA resources in support of new, unproven ventures

  • Recognize that business risk is inherent in commercial space activities
  • Apply a level of due diligence commensurate with the level of government financial and programmatic exposure, and the perceived business risk for the private sector entity to ensure that the proposed approach will maximize safety and the probability of success
  • Acknowledge that not all ventures attempted will be successful

Objective 7: Increase private sector access to NASA assets, resources, practices, and expertise

  • Actively seek potential partners from the private sector across multiple disciplines
  • Fully integrate NASA’s Technology Partnership Program and the Commercial Space Center Program

Goal 4: Support free and fair trade in space goods and services

Objective 1: Promote international protections for real and intellectual property rights in space, and spectrum allocations needed for space operations

Objective 2: Encourage and support national and international incentives that encourage private sector investment in space-related activities

Objective 3: Work proactively with appropriate U.S. regulatory agencies in international forums to promote a more supportive, transparent and predictable regulatory environment for commercial space activities, including the allocation of tangible property

Objective 4: Promote the development of best business practices concerning insurance and liability issues that affect space commerce

Goal 5: Strategically align NASA participation in commercial activities with the Agency’s mission and values

Objective 1: Use space commerce goods and services to enhance NASA programs, projects, and capabilities

Objective 2: Ensure that NASA’s commitment of assets to support space commerce does not conflict with the resource demands for the Agency’s higher priority programs

Objective 3: Manage NASA resources in a manner consistent with authorization and appropriations law


In recent years NASA has been approached by private entities seeking to partner with the Agency for commercial development in multiple disciplines. In addition, the assembly and operation of the International Space Station (ISS) has resulted in new levels of commercial interest in space commerce, within both the domestic and international communities.

Opportunities to foster the commercial use of space exist in all of the NASA Enterprises and program areas. These opportunities can be categorized into five sectors: technology, research, infrastructure and facilities, media and communications, and space travel and exploration. NASA’s current business portfolio consists of numerous activities in support of commercialization, including those of the Commercial Technology Offices, Incubators, Commercial Space Centers, the Small Business Innovative Research program, the Strategic Launch Initiative, plus Enterprise-specific commercialization plans for NASA programs and facilities. Transition to commercialization activities continues in both the Consolidated Space Operations Contract and the Space Flight Operations Contract. NASA currently enables commercialization through the use of public/private partnerships, dual-use technologies, strategic alliances with the private sector and technology transfer initiatives.

These current activities will continue, consistent with NASA’s overall vision and strategies. The specific areas addressed below represent new opportunities in which the private sector has expressed interest. By enabling and facilitating commercial activities in these areas, NASA will accelerate space commerce in its entire portfolio, including its traditional research and technology efforts.

As Agency experience in facilitating space commerce evolves, NASA anticipates that additional opportunities will develop which will be addressed, as appropriate, in subsequent implementation guidelines.

Section I: Sponsorship

NASA has long enjoyed the support of the American public. There continues to be a strong desire on the part of many private entities to associate themselves and their activities with NASA and the NASA Mission. NASA can benefit from such association when private sector goals are aligned with NASA mission objectives. Sponsorship also offers NASA an additional mechanism by which it can exercise controls to ensure the appropriate and proper use of its emblems, marks, and logos. The advent of the International Space Station (ISS) and increased commercial activity in space provides the opportunity for enhanced relationships between NASA and private sector companies. Therefore, it is timely and appropriate to develop a formal process for granting and controlling the right of companies to sponsor NASA missions and programs.


Sponsorship is defined as the relationship where an entity (the “sponsor”) contributes something of value in exchange for the ability to associate itself with NASA and its attributes. In order to be successful, a sponsorship must be strategic and aligned with the core values of each partner. Advertising and merchandising (discussed in Subsections I & II below) are strategic tools of sponsorship deployment.

Policy goals:

NASA shall engage in sponsorship opportunities that present NASA with unique ways to acquire enhanced capabilities and protect against improper and unauthorized use of NASA’s emblems, marks and logos. Managed strategically, sponsorships represent an opportunity to create significant value that can enhance NASA’s programs and mission. The value that NASA can acquire through sponsorship activities includes the use of expert commercial resources and communications networks in education and outreach, the acquisition of additional technology, hardware, or program capabilities from the private sector at no additional cost to the Government, and the enabling of activities such as increased commercial use of space in the public interest. Wherever possible, NASA will implement the sponsorship program using cooperative arrangements under its Space Act authority.


NASA shall engage in strategically managed sponsorship activities with the private sector, the academic community, and governmental organizations, as appropriate. Entities being considered as participating sponsors must:

  • Share NASA’s mission, vision and values
  • Demonstrate high performance and excellence
  • Enhance NASA’s brand by association with “family friendly” goods and services
  • Demonstrate they have the requisite resources, capabilities, and values necessary to meet sponsorship commitments

NASA shall develop and utilize discrete selection criteria to ensure that the NASA mission is enhanced by sponsor partnerships and shall apply the following general principles when considering sponsorship requests:

  • Sponsorship activities shall not compromise safety, security, or any aspect of successful fulfillment of a particular spaceflight mission
  • Sponsorships shall be designed to enhance NASA’s programs, not primarily for purposes of raising funds. Therefore, barter arrangements that do not involve the exchange of funds between sponsors and NASA shall be the preferred means of transaction
  • Sponsorship activities shall contribute to, and be aligned with, the overall NASA mission, vision and values
  • NASA requirements for a particular spaceflight mission shall have priority
  • Selection of sponsors shall be made through fair and documented processes
  • Within circumscribed guidelines and under NASA approval and supervision, a sponsor may feature its emblems, marks and logos in conjunction with designated NASA emblems, marks and logos, other than the official NASA Insignia
  • Since the official NASA Insignia enjoys worldwide recognition and represents the Agency as a whole, use of the official NASA Insignia can only be granted by the NASA Administrator under very special conditions
  • Sponsors may seek naming rights, contingent upon the approval of the NASA Administrator
  • NASA will establish specific sponsorship categories, and will grant limited category exclusivity, as appropriate
  • To preserve their value, sponsorships must be limited in number and must provide substantial value for the sponsored activity
  • Sponsorships are prohibited from including personal endorsements by NASA personnel.
  • NASA will publicly recognize the contributions of its sponsors
  • NASA will actively manage the sponsorship program with the help of outside expertise


  • NASA shall develop discrete selection criteria for considering sponsorship requests
  • NASA shall establish a centralized, streamlined sponsorship management structure at NASA Headquarters, including participation from NASA’s field centers
  • NASA shall implement an expedited decision-making process
  • NASA shall develop formal Sponsorship governing documents and metrics, including full descriptions of conjoined activities such as those related to advertising and merchandising
  • NASA shall proceed in a phased manner by initially pursuing pilot sponsorship projects
  • NASA shall select outside expertise to assist in the design and implementation of the sponsorship program, culminating in the final selection of pilot sponsorship projects
  • NASA shall select an expert organization to manage and operate a sponsorship program to enhance NASA programs and activities in support of space research, technology, and exploration, and explore the possibility of utilizing means other than the use of appropriated funds to underwrite the participation of the expert organization

ISS and International Sponsorships:

NASA shall work with the ISS partners to establish an international sponsorship program for the ISS, including the creation and deployment of an appropriate international logo similar to the approach used by the International Olympic Committee. In the interim, when an international partner seeks to use NASA ISS resources for individual sponsorship, advertising, or merchandising activities, NASA shall agree to such use only where it is consistent with NASA’s mission, vision, and values and where NASA is appropriately compensated for the use of its resources.

Application of this Policy to Second-Party Sponsorship Activities:


A second-party sponsorship occurs when a NASA contractor, sponsor or partner manages its own program of sponsorship in support of the NASA mission.

Second-Party NASA Sponsorship Policy:

NASA encourages its sponsors, partners and contractors to develop their own sponsorship programs in support of the NASA mission. If this second-party sponsorship relies on the contractor or partner’s relationship with NASA for its success and focus, then this policy shall apply to those second-party sponsorships and NASA shall retain its sponsorship oversight designated under this policy. Current NASA domestic partners and contractors themselves may create their own sponsorship program in support of the NASA mission, with the explicit approval of the NASA sponsorship management.

Subsection I: Advertising


Advertising is defined as direct promotion of an entity through media such as print, radio, television, Internet, outdoor billboards, direct mail, etc.

Policy goals:

As part of the NASA Sponsorship Program, advertising can provide NASA with strategic communications tools and result in enhanced public understanding of the space program. Strategically managed sponsor advertising activities can add significant value to the NASA mission.


Under the terms of sponsorship activities and within the context of an established sponsor relationship, NASA will permit its sponsors to engage in circumscribed advertising activities, including the use of designated NASA emblems, emblems, marks and logos, with NASA approval.


When considering advertising requests, NASA shall employ the following criteria:

  • Only advertising that forms a key part of an approved sponsorship agreement will be permitted
  • All advertising associated with NASA shall reflect some aspect of the NASA mission, vision and values
  • NASA may grant category exclusivity in conformance with the NASA sponsorship policy
  • Use of NASA imagery and designated emblems, marks and logos may be permitted with approval from NASA, consistent with NASA’s sponsorship policy
  • All advertising activities and copy shall be pre-approved by NASA
  • Privacy rights of NASA personnel (e.g. astronauts) will be preserved, consistent with U.S. law, and NASA policy and practice
  • Consistent with Federal law and regulations, U.S. government employees may not endorse commercial products and services

Subsection II: Merchandising:


Merchandising is defined as the selling and promotion of specific commodities and goods. Additional components of merchandising include market research, development of new products, coordination of manufacture and marketing, and effective advertising and selling.

Policy goals:

Merchandising can be used as a strategic tool in the negotiation and deployment of sponsorship activities, as well as in the overall management of the NASA “brand.”


NASA will encourage the development of appropriate merchandising activities, with its current partners and contractors, and as part of its strategic sponsorship program. Under current regulation, the merchandising of NASA trinkets and souvenirs is permitted, with permission, including the potential use of NASA emblems, marks and logos.


When considering merchandising requests, NASA shall employ the following criteria:

  • Commodities and goods associated with NASA shall reflect aspects of the NASA mission, vision and values
  • Entities wishing to engage in merchandizing activities linked to aspects of the NASA brand shall seek and obtain NASA approval in aligning their activities with the NASA “brand management strategy”
  • Merchandising activities shall be conducted in conformance with the goals and objectives of the NASA sponsorship policy

  • Sponsorship-related merchandising activities will be conducted under the auspices of the NASA sponsorship program
  • All merchandising activities will be managed in accordance with the NASA brand management program
  • NASA will allow the licensing of NASA marks and/or emblems for products that are approved by NASA
  • NASA will develop a mechanism and process, consistent with the sponsorship policy, to police its brand

Section II: Entertainment

NASA has a longstanding association with the entertainment industry. As NASA continues to explore our solar system, there are an increasing number of requests to support entertainment projects that involve sending equipment and personnel into space. NASA should enable this important industry sector to participate fully as new opportunities evolve.


Entertainment is defined as commercially based programming and projects designed to entertain, educate and inform, in a variety of media such as films, television and stage productions, music, theme parks, software, virtual environments and websites, etc.

Policy goals:

NASA shall seek opportunities to partner with the entertainment industry that can provide NASA with strategic communication tools, and result in increased positive public identification with the space program. When opportunities are realized strategically, and within strict guidelines established by NASA, entertainment activities can add significant value to the NASA mission.


NASA shall encourage and facilitate, where appropriate, entertainment opportunities to enhance public knowledge of NASA’s mission and projects. Entertainment programs and projects associated with NASA shall meet one or more of the following selection criteria:

  • Programs and projects that advance NASA’s mission, vision and values
  • Programs and projects that present opportunities to expand informal education through myriad media opportunities
  • Programs and projects that represent opportunities to enhance public knowledge of NASA’s mission and present the smallest cost and schedule impact to NASA


  • NASA shall seek to build relationships with the entertainment industry, potentially through brokers, to share America’s space program with the public
  • NASA shall inform the entertainment industry of NASA projects and future opportunities, thereby empowering artistic freedom while enabling aerospace-related, factual documentaries, and feasible fiction to facilitate increased distribution of space-related information
  • NASA shall provide assistance consistent with established NASA Policy Directives and shall allow access to NASA facilities, technical and other expertise and materials, on a non-interference basis and subject to reimbursement, barter, and/or other compensation, as appropriate
  • NASA shall provide and facilitate access to public domain materials
  • NASA shall establish boundary conditions for imagery/emblem use, e.g. astronaut images and the NASA logo, consistent with general regulations, sponsorship policy and privacy rights
  • NASA shall encourage commercial participation in development and use of imagery, but reserve the right to retain public affairs and operational use of images
  • NASA shall expand innovative collaboration opportunities with entertainment and traditional news and information industries that advance both the NASA mission and private sector interests
  • NASA shall implement streamlined management processes to accept, review and approve proposals, scripts, treatments and other materials

Section III: Space Travel

There has long been a desire by members of the general public to become space travelers. To date, however, access to space by humans has generally been the sole province of astronauts and cosmonauts utilizing government developed and operated space transportation systems and orbital facilities. For space travel to become affordable and available to the general public, the private sector must become engaged to develop and operate commercial space transportation systems and orbital facilities. Over the years, NASA has gained an immense wealth of experience and technical data pertaining to the development and operation of human-qualified space transportation systems and orbital facilities. NASA now seeks to share its information and capabilities to facilitate the private sector development of human space travel as a new area of commerce.


A Spaceflight Participant is a member of the general public, not a professional astronaut or cosmonaut, who travels into space.

Policy goals:

NASA shall support private sector initiatives to develop and operate commercial space transportation systems and orbital facilities to accommodate human space travel. For this purpose, NASA shall provide access to the Agency’s archives and other information, provide access to NASA facilities and equipment not otherwise available in the private sector, and offer technical assistance, in an appropriate manner. This access shall be consistent with available resources and shall be on a non-interference basis with the Agency’s priority programs. In order to qualify for this access, private sector entities must demonstrate their business viability. In addition, NASA shall support and assist the Federal Aviation Administration and other U.S. regulatory agencies, as appropriate, with their certification activities for private sector developed and/or operated space flight hardware and systems.

Further, in advance of available commercial capabilities NASA shall reestablish the Spaceflight Participant Program to provide limited opportunities for Spaceflight Participants to participate in space flight utilizing Government developed and operated space transportation systems and orbital facilities. The goal of this program is to enable these persons to meaningfully contribute to the furtherance of NASA’s core missions, and share their perspectives of the experience with the public, while advancing understanding of the potential viability and risks associated with commercial space travel and tourism. Mission safety and success will remain NASA’s top priority for the Spaceflight Participant Program. NASA will not utilize the Spaceflight Participant Program in a manner that would compete with any similar legitimate domestic private sector venture.


  • NASA shall develop a streamlined process whereby private sector entities can gain access to the Agency’s:
  • Archives and other technical data and research
  • Specialized test equipment and facilities
  • Technical expertise
  • NASA assets (e.g., Shuttle and NASA ISS resources) and NASA support for the use of other ISS partner assets (Soyuz “taxi” flights and ISS partner resources) may be provided for Spaceflight Participant flights and visits to the ISS where such flights and visits are consistent with NASA’s resource capability and two or more of the following NASA mission objectives:
  • Conduct research on the Shuttle and/or ISS
  • Enhance NASA’s space science and exploration education and outreach goals
  • Provide opportunities to demonstrate the viability of emerging commercial space travel and tourism markets
  • NASA shall develop and implement a formal selection process for Spaceflight Participant flight opportunities on the Shuttle to:
  • Include an evaluation based on the above criteria
  • Consider a requirement for reimbursement of some or all of the cost of the NASA resources involved (Reimbursement per se shall not be a selection factor for the use of U.S. Government spacecraft and launch facilities)
  • NASA shall work with the other ISS partners to develop and implement a coordinated selection process for Spaceflight Participant flight opportunities on Soyuz “taxi” flights and visits that will utilize other ISS partner resources to:
  • Include an evaluation based on the above criteria
  • Consider a requirement for reimbursement of some or all of the cost of the partner resources involved (It is recognized that the other ISS partners may apply different selection criteria and cost reimbursement principles than those specified by NASA)
  • Spaceflight Participant visits to the ISS shall fully comply with the ISS Inter-Governmental Agreements, Memoranda of Understanding, and, once established, the Multilateral Crew Guidelines
  • The resources, accommodations and supporting services used to support a Spaceflight Participant visit to the ISS will be taken from the allocation(s) of the partner under whose auspices the Space Traveler is flying

Section IV: International Space Station Specific Policies

A significant number of opportunities for space commercialization in low-Earth orbit will reside in the International Space Station (ISS). A key to effectively managing the ISS for all planned activities, including research funded by both government and industry, is to employ a qualified non-governmental organization entity to manage the U.S. share of ISS utilization. While this may only be a first step, it is essential to enabling space commerce in low-Earth orbit. Utilization of ISS Accommodations and Resources to Support Commercial Activity and Commercial Space Station Enhancements (discussed in Subsections I & II below) are key elements to enable the successful implementation of commercial activities on the ISS.

Subsection I: Utilization of ISS Accommodations and Resources to Support Commercial Activity

The ISS is a multi-mission spacecraft designed for scientific, technological and commercial utilization. Because the U.S. share of the physical accommodations and resources of the ISS have finite limits, development of an orderly and disciplined allocation process is essential for the safe and productive utilization of this national asset.


The U.S. share of the ISS Utilization Accommodations and Resources is defined by international agreement and is contained in memoranda of understanding with the Partners.

Policy goals:

Consistent with the existing international framework, NASA shall enable and promote commercial activity on the ISS by creating an appropriate and predictable process for the allocation of the U.S. share of ISS utilization accommodations and resources, and ensuring that ISS resources and accommodations are available to support commercial development.


NASA shall encourage commercial development across all five sectors of space commerce and shall allocate the commercial portion of the US share of ISS utilization accommodations and resources to:

  • Encourage commercial development across all areas of ISS utilization, operations, and evolutionary growth
  • Ensure sufficient flexibility to respond to changes in national policy, events of discovery, and other unforeseen events

  • Guarantee that long term strategic growth in commercial R&D is not compromised by over-commitment in commercial markets which are not directly related to R&D

  • Reinvest gains achieved through commercial partnerships back into the ISS program, as allowed by statute, and encourage evolutionary growth of the ISS through non-appropriated investment

  • Coordinate with the other ISS partners in order to maximize value and minimize barriers to commerce


  • NASA shall employ market-based pricing

  • NASA shall employ a portfolio management approach to the allocation of ISS utilization accommodations and resources to the various user segments
  • NASA shall participate in a Multilateral Commercial Group for the purpose of international coordination
  • NASA shall maintain, publish and update as necessary a pricing schedule and structure for the US share of ISS utilization resources and accommodations
  • Selection and priority criteria shall be based on market principles and alignment with NASA objectives

Subsection II: Commercial Space Station Enhancements

The ISS is initially being constructed with hardware and equipment funded or provided by the international partners, all of whom are government entities. As we proceed to promote and enable commercial activity on the ISS there will be opportunities for NASA to benefit from commercial enhancements of the ISS.


Commercial space station enhancements are defined as additions, upgrades, and improvements of the ISS infrastructure, facilities, equipment, and capabilities beyond those funded by the U.S. government or another ISS partner.

Policy goals:

To realize its goal of opening low-Earth orbit to the private sector, NASA must help accelerate and increase the number of entities that provide and operate infrastructure in low earth orbit. Privately funded commercial enhancement of the ISS will provide an opportunity to realize this goal consistent with the oversight and approval of Congress and the Administration.


NASA will encourage and enable enhancements to the ISS funded by the private sector.

Selection Criteria:

  • U.S. entities will be free to enter into enhancement arrangements with any ISS partner
  • Enhancements affecting the ISS baseline configuration shall be proposed by a partner, using the established management mechanisms

  • If one partner proposes a commercial enhancement that causes cost impact(s) to another partner(s), the proposing partner shall be responsible for bearing the costs of those impacts to the other partner(s), unless otherwise agreed by the affected partners
  • No partner will be permitted to unilaterally exceed the resources (power, crew time, propellant, extravehicular activity, etc.) allocated to it
  • Partners may trade among themselves in mutually beneficial ways, as desired


  • NASA shall establish clear, predictable, efficient mechanisms throughout the Agency for considering and responding to enhancement proposals in a timely manner

  • NASA shall establish an electronic library of relevant documents to enable proposers of enhancements to demonstrate compliance with top-level specifications and all appropriate interface control documents

  • NASA shall give universities and private sector entities interested in providing space station and commercial enhancements access to NASA technologies, expertise and information, consistent with its licensing practices and commitments

  • Approval of all ISS partners shall be required prior to any configuration change to ISS elements driven by commercial enhancements

  • Entities that fund enhanced infrastructure, facilities and equipment may retain ownership of those articles
  • NASA will consider barter arrangements with the commercial provider for shared use where a commercial enhancement furthers an Agency mission (e.g., a phased array antenna that provides better data delivery)

SpaceRef staff editor.