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NASA Partners With SpaceX, Blue Origin, Sierra Space + 4 Others For Future Commercial Space Capabilities

In a significant move to foster innovation and advance the future of human spaceflight and the U.S. commercial low Earth orbit economy, NASA has announced the second Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities-2 initiative (CCSC-2) and is partners with with seven American companies.

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Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Thu Jun 15 2023Written by Zac Aubert

In a significant move to foster innovation and advance the future of human spaceflight and the U.S. commercial low Earth orbit economy, NASA has announced the second Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities-2 initiative (CCSC-2) and is partners with with seven American companies.

The CCSC-2 initiative represents a strategic approach by NASA to support commercial space-related ventures without utilizing extensive government resources. By providing valuable insights and resources, NASA seeks to bolster the development of capabilities crucial to the establishment of a robust low Earth orbit economy.

The seven companies selected to participate in this landmark collaboration were chosen based on their innovative approaches, expertise, and potential contributions to the future of space exploration. Each company will bring unique strengths to the partnership, contributing to the overall advancement of human spaceflight and the commercial sector.

Through the unfunded Space Act Agreements, NASA will offer its technical expertise and share valuable knowledge gained from decades of space exploration. The agency will also provide assessments and lessons learned from previous missions, which can help the partnering companies avoid potential pitfalls and maximize their chances of success. Additionally, NASA will share cutting-edge technologies and data with the selected companies, enabling them to build upon existing advancements and accelerate their own research and development efforts. This exchange of knowledge and resources is expected to create a mutually beneficial environment, driving innovation and progress in the commercial space sector.


SpaceX is collaborating with NASA on an integrated low Earth orbit architecture to provide a growing portfolio of technology with near-term Dragon evolution and concurrent Starship development. This architecture includes Starship as a transportation and in-space low-Earth orbit destination element supported by Super Heavy, Dragon, and Starlink, and constituent capabilities including crew and cargo transportation, communications, and operational and ground support.

Blue Origin

Blue Origin is collaborating with NASA to develop integrated commercial space transportation capability that ensures safe, affordable, and high-frequency US access to orbit for crew and other missions.

Sierra Space

Sierra Space is collaborating with NASA for the development of the company’s commercial low Earth orbit ecosystem, including next-generation space transportation, in-space infrastructure, and expandable and tailorable space facilities providing a human presence in low Earth orbit.

Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman is collaborating with NASA on the company’s Persistent Platform to provide autonomous and robotic capabilities for commercial science research and manufacturing capabilities in low Earth orbit

Artist’s concept of Northrop Grumman’s Persistent Platform concept in low Earth orbit. | Credit: Northrop Grumman

Special Aerospace Services

Special Aerospace Services is collaborating with NASA on an in-space servicing technology, propulsion, and robotic technology called the Autonomous Maneuvering Unit (AMU) and the Astronaut Assist-AMU for commercial in-space servicing and mobility applications intended for safer assembly of commercial low Earth orbit destinations, servicing, retrieval, and inspection of in-space systems.

Think Orbital

ThinkOrbital is collaborating with NASA on the development of ThinkPlatforms and CONTESA (Construction Technologies for Space Applications). ThinkPlatforms are self-assembling, single-launch, large-scale orbital platforms that facilitate a wide array of applications in low Earth orbit, including in-space research, manufacturing, and astronaut missions. CONTESA features welding, cutting, inspection, and additive manufacturing technologies, and aids in large-scale in-space fabrication.


Vast is collaborating with NASA on technologies and operations required for its microgravity and artificial gravity stations. This includes the Haven-1 commercial destination, which will provide a microgravity environment for crew, research, and in-space manufacturing, and the first crewed mission, called Vast-1, to the platform. Development activities for larger space station modules will also take place under the Space Act Agreement.

The collaborative efforts between NASA and the 7 partnering companies under the CCSC-2 initiative are poised to have a far-reaching impact. By combining NASA's vast experience with the fresh perspectives and agility of the private sector, the aim is to drive breakthroughs in space technology, infrastructure, and services.

The establishment of a robust low Earth orbit economy is a key objective of this initiative. As commercial activities in space increase, including satellite deployment, research, manufacturing, and tourism, the demand for reliable and cost-effective solutions in low Earth orbit is expected to rise. The partnership with these seven U.S. companies will help drive the development of the necessary capabilities and infrastructure to meet these demands efficiently.

The collaboration will not only benefit the participating companies but also contribute to the growth of the U.S. commercial space industry as a whole. By facilitating the commercialization of low Earth orbit and supporting the expansion of the private sector's role in space exploration, this initiative has the potential to generate significant economic opportunities and job creation.

NASA's partnership with these seven companies marks a major milestone in the pursuit of sustainable human spaceflight and the growth of the U.S. commercial low Earth orbit economy. Through the structured sharing of technical expertise, assessments, lessons learned, technologies, and data, this collaboration will undoubtedly accelerate the pace of innovation and bring us closer to a future where space is not only a realm of exploration but also a thriving commercial frontier.