Business Innovation Key to Commercial Crew Program’s Success

NASA spacecraft have long pushed the envelope on technological achievement, whether they carried astronauts into the vacuum of space the first time or tailored a robotic rover to explore a distant world. The Commercial Crew Program maintains those traits while helping to produce a sustainable model for spaceflight that serves NASA's needs while including elements such as production efficiency, reusability and life-cycle costs.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program tailored requirements for a new generation of human-rated spacecraft to allow industry to create innovative design solutions, manufacturing processes, operational methods and engineering techniques. The result has been a series of components, systems and now spacecraft and rockets that will soon take astronauts to and from the International Space Station in a manner that is both cost-effective and reliable.

The work began in 2010 when NASA created initial developmental agreements with several companies to begin the design and testing of subsystems, such as life support equipment, launch abort systems and spacecraft. This was followed by a progressive series of Space Act Agreements and later contracts that became more detailed for larger and more complex spacecraft and launch vehicle systems. Today, NASA has contracts with Boeing and SpaceX to build and operate systems to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

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