Status Report

NASA Low Earth Orbit Commercialization Workshop

By SpaceRef Editor
November 13, 2014
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NASA Low Earth Orbit Commercialization Workshop

Dear Colleague,

On behalf of NASA, I invite your participation in a workshop among NASA, industry, academia, and policy stakeholders to discuss facilitating commercialization of low Earth orbit (LEO) through the ISS Program.  The event will be held in Washington, DC, at the Residence Inn, located at 333 E St SW (directly across the street from NASA Headquarters).  The event will begin on Wednesday, December 10th, from 1-5pm, and continue all day Thursday, December 11th, from 8am-5pm.

The goal of this workshop is to start a dialog about creating a thriving commercial marketplace in LEO over the next decade, enabled by human spaceflight.  Historically, NASA has been both the primary supplier and consumer of human spaceflight capabilities and services in LEO.  However, NASA has begun to change this historical model by purchasing cargo transportation services commercially and is facilitating the development of commercial crew transportation and rescue capabilities.  By the end of 2017, NASA plans to purchase both crew and cargo delivery services to the ISS from commercial suppliers.  By the 2020’s, near the planned end of the life of the ISS, NASA’s intention is to transition LEO from being government-led to significantly more private sector involvement (both supply and demand side).  In this scenario, both research requirements and investigations are private sector need driven, and the supply-side transportation and microgravity capabilities are private sector provided. 

To date, NASA has worked on establishing a private sector transportation capability for both cargo and crew.  Also, NASA, through CASIS and other efforts, has offered the ISS as venue for the private sector to explore the benefits of space-based research for terrestrial companies.  In the future, it will be critical for a commercial market for microgravity capabilities be developed by the private sector.  Creating this marketplace will require the efforts of both government and industry.  Through the information and ideas gathered and developed during this workshop, NASA intends to formulate a new strategy – including new initiatives and projects – designed to encourage the emergence of this commercial marketplace to the maximum extent possible.

Through plenary sessions, breakout sessions, and one-on-one interactions with NASA, we intend to explore critical areas and topics in the development of a commercial marketplace in LEO.  These include: enabling policy statements and incentives; enabling mission goals; promising commercial markets in LEO; commercial operation of ISS systems; promising microgravity R&D investment areas of high probable return to the nation; barriers to commercialization of LEO.

Some key questions that will be explored include: 

What regulation changes and investment incentives would encourage commercial research and application activities in LEO?

What kind of intellectual property rights protections are required to engage private capital for research on ISS?

What are the most promising near-term market opportunities in LEO and how can they better be enabled using the ISS?  What are the most promising long-term applications of LEO that the ISS program can enable?

Is there a business case outside the government for multiple LEO platforms that are specialized for individual markets?  (tourism, micro-gravity research/production, free-flying human tended Earth observing platform, etc.)

What can the government do to encourage LEO supply providers to seek non-NASA customers for their services or capabilities?

Is there an overlap between LEO commercial platform capabilities and NASA’s exploration goals?

If you wish to prepare a brief presentation (maximum four slides) highlighting ideas or suggestions addressing these subjects, either for the general audience or for a one-on-one with NASA, please let us know.  Due to time limitations, we will not be able to accommodate all interested parties; if you are interested in presenting, please send a draft presentation to no later than November 26th.  We will notify you before the meeting if you’ve been selected to present.  Please note that one-on-one sessions are for informational purposes only and are not intended to discuss or solicit proposals for work or funding from NASA. 

There is no attendance fee for this workshop. 

RSVPs are required for attendance.  Please RSVP to by December 1st.  Also note if you want to have one-on-one session with NASA. 

A detailed agenda will be forwarded to all registered participants prior to the workshop.

Please feel free to pass this invitation along to any other parties in or out of the space industry that you think may be interested in participating; broad participation from both traditional and non-traditional sectors will make this workshop a success.

I look forward to seeing you on December 10th,

Sam Scimemi

Director, International Space Station

Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate

NASA Headquarters

SpaceRef staff editor.