Kennedy Space Center NextGen Website

Emerging Space, Public Private Partnerships and Commercial Space



  • [Briefing] Allison F. Zuniga, Mark Turner, Daniel Rasky “Building an Economical and Sustainable Lunar Infrastructure to Enable Lunar Science and Space Commerce,” Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG), October 2017.
  • [Paper] Allison F. Zuniga, Mark Turner, Daniel Rasky, Mike Loucks, John Carrico, Daniel Policastri, “Building an Economical and Sustainable Lunar Infrastructure to Enable Lunar Industrialization,” American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics Space 2017.


  • [Paper] Allison F. Zuniga, Mark Turner, Daniel Rasky, Robert B. Pittman, Edgar Zapata, "Kickstarting a New Era of Lunar Industrialization via Campaigns of Lunar COTS Missions," American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics Space 2016.


  • Edgar Zapata, "Emerging US Space Launch Trends and Space Solar Power (pdf)," IEEE International Conference on Wireless for Space and Extreme Environments, 2015.
  • [Paper] Allison F. Zuniga, Daniel Rasky, Robert B. Pittman, Edgar Zapata, Roger Lepsch, "Lunar COTS: An Economical and Sustainable Approach to Reaching Mars," American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics - Space 2015 Conference, August 2015.
  • Best Practices from NASA COTS slide

  • Charles Miller, Alan Wilhite, David Cheuvront, Robert Kelso, Howard McCurdy, Edgar Zapata, "Economic Assessment and Systems Analysis of an Evolvable Lunar Architecture that Leverages Commercial Space Capabilities and Public-Private-Partnerships," NexGen Space LLC under a grant from NASA, 2015.
  • "Based on the experience of recent NASA program innovations, such as the COTS program, a human return to the Moon may not be as expensive as previously thought."

    Also see: Charles Miller, "Affording a Return to the Moon by Leveraging Commercial Partnerships," Charles Miller, Future In-Space Operations (FISO) Working Group, September 30, 2015.

  • "The Report of the Independent Review Committee on SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 Certification (pdf)," Institute for Defense Analysis, Larry D. Welch, General, USAF (Ret.), March 2015.
  • "There is a lack of clarity regarding what the Certifying Official is actually addressing.
    Neither view was the intent of the original certification plan. The intent was a partnership that leveraged the commercial practices and experience of SpaceX and decades of Air Force experience to meet the needs of the Air Force for confidence in the capability and reliability of the SpaceX launch system. In particular, it was never envisioned that the Air Force would drive changes in design, processes, and organization to achieve certification. Neither was it expected the Falcon 9 launch experience would suffice to provide the needed confidence in Falcon 9 v1.1 for national security payloads. Instead, it was expected there would be a manageable set of issues requiring resolution, some requiring resolution at the top level.
    The Balance between the What and How
    The daily focus of members of the NECT for the past decade or so has been intensely on confidence in individual successful deliveries to orbit. That requires assessment of specific processes and hardware associated with the specific launch vehicle. The traditional approach is prescriptive."


  • "The Evolving Landscape of 21st Century American Spaceflight (pdf)" NASA Emerging Space Office (ESO), 2014.
    (Point of Contact: Alexander MacDonald)
  • The Evolving Landscape of 21st Century American Spaceflight Report Cover

    "The next era of space exploration will see governments pushing technological development and the American private sector using these technologies as they expand their economic activities to new worlds. NASA's next objectives for exploration--visits to asteroids and Mars--are more complex than any previous space mission attempted.
    They will happen in the context of relatively smaller NASA budgets and an expanding commercial space economy. Teaming with private sector partners to develop keystone markets like low Earth orbit (LEO) transportation and technological capabilities like asteroid mining will help NASA achieve its mission goals, help the space economy evolve to embrace new ambitions, and provide large economic returns to the taxpayer through the stimulation and growth of new businesses and 21st century American jobs."
  • [Report] [Presentation] "Public Private Partnerships for Space Capability Development, Driving Economic Growth and NASA's Mission," NASA, Office of the Chief Technologist, April 2014 & July 2013.
  • Public Private Partnerships for Space Capability Development, Driving Economic Growth and NASA's Mission Report Cover

    "As NASA develops its deep space exploration strategy, identification of options for leveraging private investment and contributing to U.S. economic competitiveness in the process will be critical to establishing a sustainable path."
  • "Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, A New Era in Spaceflight (pdf)," NASA SP-2014-617, 2014.
  • "From 2006 to 2013, under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program managed by C3PO, NASA acted as an investor and advisor with three different and distinct companies in the space transportation industry to promote the development of U.S. space transportation capabilities on the frontier of human exploration."

    "Both the SpaceX and Orbital low- Earth orbit transportation systems were developed with a total NASA COTS investment of just $788 million ($500 original funding plus $288 million fiscal year 2011 augmentation)."

    "The NASA Air Force Cost Model (NAFCOM) estimate for the cost to develop the SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicle, based on the NASA environment and culture, ranged from as low as $443 million to as high as approximately $4 billion. However the final cost for developing and demonstrating the Falcon 9 rocket was only about $400 million—up to 10 times less than projected."

    "In a June 2009 report, the Government Accountability Office commended C3PO for its responsible use of government monies. Particularly noted was the very small percentage of the program’s budget applied to management and overhead."


  • Reference - "Analysis of NASA Lease and Purchase Alternatives for the Commercial Middeck Augmentation Module (pdf)," Price Waterhouse Office of Government Services, Center for Space and Advanced Technology, Marsh & McLennon, Insurers, 1991.
  • "Thus, the lease cost [commercial SpaceHab] is 16% of the purchase cost [traditional contracting]"

Also see:

  • Eric Burgess, Dan Barkmeyer, "Estimating Commercial-Like Satellite Programs", 42nd Annual DoD Cost Analysis Symposium, February 2009.
  • "Conclusions
    • Acquisition complexity: Can be computed
    • Helps explain cost differences among commercial and commercial-like programs
    • Is being used for NRO estimates"
  • Wilmer Alvarado, Daniel Barkmeyer, Erik Burgess, "Commercial-Like Acquisitions: Practices and Costs," Journal of Cost Analysis and Parametrics, 3:1, 41-58, 2010.
  • "Although some of these drivers are symptoms of a technically complex system, they should also serve as a guide to program managers to indicate when a commercial-like acquisition may be appropriate and how to tailor their acquisition program to reduce cost."
  • Bhavya Lal, "Reshaping Space Policies to Meet Global Trends," Issues in Science & Technology, Summer 2016.
  • "With more countries and private companies expanding their activities in space, the US government must reshape its space agencies and policies. Cooperation and catalysis will be key.
    Choosing when and how to leverage outside players is not a trivial matter, and each agency involved in such experimentation would need to establish an overarching rationale for any outsourcing or partnering. Government agencies could, for example, with certain exceptions for strategic reasons, identify external capabilities to do what is more efficient to do outside, such as to launch crew and cargo into low-Earth orbit. They could also use outside capabilities to do what is difficult to do in-house, such as employing a private firm to use a high-risk modular architecture for a journey to Mars. It goes without saying that both would be difficult shifts at agencies with a strong culture of resisting ideas “not invented here.”
    As government agencies take on the role of catalysts and leverage outside skills, it is possible that many in-house skills would become redundant when superior skills are found outside, whereas others would become more desirable. Many agencies would need to evolve from being technology-driven to acquisition-driven, becoming entities in which the skill set required is that of scouting for talent and ideas rather than doing the work. This would make them similar to various other mission agencies, such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Institutes of Health. As a result, many of the agencies would need to evaluate how to best reorganize their structures to fit with their new roles."
  • Antonio Estache et Stéphane Saussier, "Public Private Partnerships and Efficiency: A Short Assessment," July 2014.
  • "The lower degree of political interference (Boycko et al., 1996), risk transfers and the more up-to-date technical and management knowledge of private actors dealing with a global contract bundling investments and service provision (Hart, 2003) are widely viewed as the three main drivers of improvements in efficiency that PPP can contribute to the delivery of public services. But research also shows that the reality is a lot more subtle and the efficiency outcome of PPPs should be expected to be less predictable than often assumed."
  • Paolo Urio, "Under What Conditions Can Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs) Improve Efficiency, Equity, Security and Sustainable Development in Countries at the Pre-PPP Stage?," 2006.
  • "The Federal Highway Administration of the US Department of Transportation, which has a long experience in PPPs, defines 6 different types of PPPs: Design Bid Build, Private Contract Fee Services, Design Build, Build Operate Transfer (BOT), Long Term Lease Agreements, Design Build Finance Operate (DBFO), and Build Own Operate (BOO). We remark that the American experience with PPPs is wider than the European one, and consequently the US interpretation is broader “and covers a variety of instruments through which government involves business and not for- profits in the realization of public policy goals.”