Commercial Crew & Cargo Space Act Agreements


NASA’s strategy for the program includes the funding of Space Act Agreements with domestic industry partners. The original Commercial Crew Development (CCDev 1) activity, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), focused on stimulating industry to mature safe, reliable, and cost-effective subsystems of commercial crew spaceflight.  This funding sought to develop the capability of the private space industry to provide cargo and crew transportation to low earth orbit (LEO). [1]

Those involved initially included Blue Origin (Kent, WA) for development of their “pusher” Launch Escape System; The Boeing Company (Houston, TX) for development of their commercial crew space transportation system; Paragon Space Development Corporation (Tucson, AZ) for development of an Environmental Control & Life Support Air Revitalization System Engineering Development Unit; Sierra Nevada Corporation (Louisville, CO) for further development of their commercial space transportation system; and, United Launch Alliance (Centennial, CO) to mature a modular Emergency Detection System for two launch vehicles. [2]


The second round of Commercial Crew Development (CCDev2) kicked off in April of 2011 to aid in further development and demonstration of safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation capabilities. Winners of CCDev2 were Blue Origin ($22 million), Boeing ($92.3 million), SpaceX ($75 million), and Sierra Nevada ($80 million). [3]


The third round of CCDev, called the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap), called for the development of fully integrated crew transportation systems, and to verify, validate and mature integrated designs. In August 2012, contracts were awarded to Sierra Nevada Corporation ($212.5 million), Boeing ($460 million), and SpaceX ($440 million). NASA also provided additional funding to Boeing ($20 million), SpaceX ($20 million), and Sierra Nevada ($15 million) to exercise pre-negotiated milestones to accelerate development. [4]


The next step in the Commercial Crew program was the Certification Products Contract (CPC), the first phase of a two-phase contract. Through CPC, companies worked with NASA to discuss and develop data products relevant to flight safety and performance requirements to be implemented across the entire space system – including the spacecraft, launch vehicle, and ground and mission operations. Certification plans were developed under these contracts as an effort to achieve safe, crewed missions to the International Space Station (ISS).  The CPC was awarded in December 2012 with Boeing ($9.993 million), Sierra Nevada Corporation ($10 million), and SpaceX ($9.589 million) receiving contracts. [5]


Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) was the second phase of the certification plan to develop commercially built and operated integrated crew transportation systems. In September 2014, following an open competition, two Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR)-based, firm fixed-price contracts were awarded to Boeing ($4.2 billion) and SpaceX ($2.6 billion). NASA is responsible for ensuring commercial transportation systems meet safety and performance requirements for transporting crews to ISS. [6]


Companies involved in the development and certification phases of the Commercial Crew Program are provided below. Award totals are cumulative and include all Space Act Agreements and contracts awarded to each company.

Company Program Participation Award Total
Alliant Techsystems CCDev2 Unfunded partnership
Blue Origin CCDev1, CCDev2 $25.6M
Boeing CCDev1, CCDev2, CCiCap, CPC, CCtCap $4.82B
Excalibur Almaz Inc. CCDev2 Unfunded partnership
Paragon Space Development CCDev1 $1.4M
Sierra Nevada CCDev1, CCDev2, CCiCap, CPC $363.1M
SpaceX CCDev2, CCiCap, CPC, CCtCap $3.144B
United Launch Alliance CCDev1, CCDev2 $6.7M

Source: NASA, 2016 [7]


Updated October 2020 by Kristin Stiner