NASA Announces A Space Station Pricing Plan

NASA to Announce Commercial Opportunities at International Space Station

"NASA will announce the agency's plans to open the International Space Station to expanded commercial activities at 10 a.m. EDT Friday, June 7, at Nasdaq in New York City. The news conference will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website. Participants in the news briefing are: Jeff DeWit, chief financial officer, NASA Headquarters, Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator, NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Robyn Gatens, deputy director, International Space Station, NASA Headquarters"

NASA Plan for Commercial LEO Development

"This plan, entitled NASA's Plan for Commercial LEO Development, addresses supply, demand, and lays out steps to date that have been taken. It also includes detailed steps that will be taken in the near-term, mid-term, and long-term."

NASA Opens International Space Station to New Commercial Opportunities, Private Astronauts

"This effort is intended to broaden the scope of commercial activity on the space station beyond the ISS National Lab mandate, which is limited to research and development. A new NASA directive will enable commercial manufacturing and production and allow both NASA and private astronauts to conduct new commercial activities aboard the orbiting laboratory. The directive also sets prices for industry use of U.S. government resources on the space station for commercial and marketing activities. Pricing released Friday is specific to commercial and marketing activities enabled by the new directive, reflects a representative cost to NASA, and is designed to encourage the emergence of new markets. As NASA learns how these new markets respond, the agency will reassess the pricing and amount of available resources approximately every six months and make adjustments as necessary."

Soliciting Proposals for Exploration Technology Demonstration and National Lab Utilization Enhancements

"This announcement is for the development of experiment hardware with enhanced capabilities; modification of existing hardware to enable increased efficiencies (crew time, power, etc.); development of tools that allow analyses of samples and specimens on orbit; enhanced ISS infrastructure capabilities (ex. Communications or data processing); concepts contributing to the development of a sustainable, scalable, and profitable non-NASA demand for LEO services; and specific technology demonstration projects as detailed below."

Keith's 6 June update: Tomorrow there will be a news briefing by Sierra Nevada to talk about their various services given that "the agency plans to open the space station and low-Earth orbit to expanded commercialization." Dream Chaser offers some very interesting capabilities not offered by other cargo vehicles such as being able to land at many regular airports with a substantial amount of payload that you can get to rather quickly after landing. More importantly allowing Dream Chaser to conduct flights to/from the ISS offers a totally independent utilization path from the one that CASIS runs for the ISS National Lab portion of the ISS.

Keith's 7 June update: The news conference will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website.

Looks like NASA is letting CASIS (aka "ISS National Lab") participate after all - sources report that they were feeling like they were being kept out of the loop on this.

Following the news briefing, Nasdaq will host a Facebook Live to discuss some of the related topics in more depth at This will overlap with a Sierra Nevada media briefing being held on this topic - simultaneously -at noon EDT.

11:30-11:45 AM: How did we get here and where are we going?

Doug Comstock, Deputy CFO for Integration, NASA
Mike Gold, Regulatory and Policy Committee Chair, NASA Advisory Council
Ken Shields, VP and COO, ISS National Lab
Phil McAlister, Director of Commercial Spaceflight, NASA

11:45-12 PM: Commercial activities on the International Space Station

Marybeth Edeen, Manager, International Space Station Research Office, NASA
Stephanie Murphy, Founder and Chairman, AlphaSpace
Jeff Manber, CEO, NanoRacks
Justin Kugler, VP Advanced Programs and Concepts, Made in Space

12-12:15 PM: Growing future markets

Robert Bigelow, Founder and President, Bigelow Aerospace, LLC
Kevin Foley, Global Sales and Marketing - Space Exploration, Boeing
Michael Lopez-Alegria, VP Business Development, Axiom
Alex MacDonald, senior economic advisor, NASA

Keith's note: This new NASA station pricing plan will cover services that are not part of the ISS National Lab allocation that has been assigned to CASIS. The plan will cover upmass and down mass, crew time, various utilities and services, visiting vehicles and potential add-on modules, and will address the flying of paying passengers on commercial crew flights.

NASA has admitted that the recent ISS commercialization studies were less than enthusiastic about the commercial potential of ISS and that companies were only interested in commercial activities on the ISS if NASA remained as an anchor tenant to assure the station's continued operations. As such NASA is now trying to do a bit of a diving catch with this pricing policy so as to try and spark some new interest in the ISS. Robyn Gatens has been heard to make mention of "auctions" of ISS resources recently.

There is no mention of CASIS or the ISS National Laboratory participation in the press release about this event. Nor is there any mention of it on the CASIS website. NASA HQ told me that CASIS will not be participating in this event other than to send representatives to sit in the audience. The perception at NASA Is that CASIS is not the solution to the ISS commercialization dilemma and that the agency needs to take new action to try and spur additional utilization of the ISS - possibly to underwrite some of the common operating expenses. But a fully commercialized ISS - of the sort envisioned as recently as early this year as part of NASA's shift to cislunar operations - is simply not in the cards. NASA is no longer expecting to be able to hand off the ISS to commercial operators and knows that it will be paying the bulk of its operational costs for another decade or so.

The thinking that is circulating internally is that NASA going to try and do a diving catch on their part of the ISS so as to try and score some success there. Something big and sexy would be nice. Then, hopefully with some actual success, they will turn to focus on the CASIS issue. They will be able to say with a straight face that ISS is a viable place to do new things and that after a decade the CASIS model for managing the National Lab portion of the ISS needs refreshing. And no one will question that assessment.

At last week's NASA Advisory Council meeting ISS Director Sam Scimemi said that if this new plan sells out very fast then they probably priced things too cheap. Conversely if there are no takers then the prices will likely need to be adjusted downward. He also made some confusing comments:

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on June 7, 2019 9:05 AM.

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