NASA is requesting information from U.S. companies interested in pursuing unfunded partnerships to develop integrated systems that will advance the development of commercial space products and services for human space exploration and operations. NASA officials describe the effort as a win-win-win for industry, NASA and the nation.
NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate launched the initiative, which is known as Collaborations for Commercial Capabilities. It provides opportunities for companies and non-profit organizations to access NASA’s spaceflight experience and expertise for mutually beneficial space exploration. The partnerships are designed to help companies accelerate development efforts. “I see this as benefitting all parties,” says Philip McAlister, NASA commercial space flight director. “These companies can certainly benefit from NASA’s experience. NASA is going to benefit because we get to see these innovative ideas and get to have a little better insight into what’s going on in the commercial industry so that we factor that into our deep space exploration plans.”
The benefits, however, could go beyond NASA and the companies involved. “The nation is going to benefit because we’ll see that NASA’s work is being reused for the benefit of the taxpayer multiple times. Hopefully, it will benefit our economy as well as our technological and industrial base,” McAlister adds.
Although the initial partnerships will not involve monetary contracts, companies will receive guidance and five decades of lessons learned from NASA and could eventually find the agency to be a customer. “NASA could potentially buy the services that become available that way,” McAlister states.