Commercial Resupply Services

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
In March 2013, a SpaceX Dragon is berthed to the ISS

Commercial Resupply Services (CRS[1]) are contracts awarded by NASA for delivery of cargo and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) on commercially operated spacecraft. The first CRS contracts were signed in 2008 and awarded $1.6 billion to SpaceX for 12 cargo transport missions and $1.9 billion to Orbital Sciences for 8 missions, covering deliveries to 2016. In 2015, NASA extended the contract by ordering another three resupply flights from SpaceX and one from Orbital Sciences.[2] The second round of contracts, CRS2, will cover deliveries from 2017 until 2024 and are expected to be awarded in 2015.[3]

SpaceX began flying resupply missions in 2012, using Dragon cargo spacecraft launched on Falcon 9 rockets from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Cape Canaveral, Florida.[4] Orbital Sciences began deliveries in 2013 using Cygnus spacecraft launched on the Antares rocket from Launch Pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), Wallops Island, Virginia.[5]


The Dragon is seen being berthed to the ISS in May 2012
The Standard variant of Cygnus is seen berthed to the ISS in September 2013

US public laws dating back to 1984 and 1990 have directed NASA to pursue commercial options for launching spaceflight missions, whenever such commercial offerings are available. By the 2000s, other more specific Congressional authorizations began to fund explicit development of commercial options for NASA, first for cargo services, and later for ISS crew transport services as well.

The selection of the firms resupplying the space station was publicly discussed by NASA on December 22, 2008. NASA announced the awarding of contracts to both Orbital Sciences Corporation and SpaceX in a press conference on December 23, 2008.[6] PlanetSpace submitted a protest to the Government Accountability Office after receiving a NASA briefing on the outcome of the award.[7] On April 22, 2009 GAO publicly released its decision to deny the protest.[8]

SpaceX launched their first Falcon 9 rocket and a mock-up Dragon capsule successfully on June 4, 2010. Their first flight contracted by NASA, COTS Demo Flight 1, took place on December 8, 2010, demonstrating the Dragon capsule's multiple orbit capability, ability to receive and respond to ground commands, and ability to gain and maintain directional alignment with NASA's TDRSS narrow-band satellite communication system. On August 15, 2011, SpaceX announced NASA had combined the mission objectives of the COTS Demo Flight 2 and 3 missions into a single mission, with the COTS 3 validation tests beginning only if all of the COTS 2 objectives were successfully demonstrated first.[9][10]

The COTS Demo Flight 2+ mission successfully launched on May 22, 2012, delivered cargo to the ISS and on May 31, landed in the Pacific and was recovered.[11] On August 23, 2012, NASA announced that SpaceX had successfully completed its COTS Space Act Agreement and NASA certified SpaceX to begin their CRS contracted spaceflights.[12]

The launch vehicles and cargo carriers were developed using Space Act Agreements under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program.[13]

NASA began a formal process to initiate Phase 2 of the Commercial Resupply Services, CRS2, in early 2014. Contracts are expected to be awarded for CRS2 in early 2015.[14][15]

Phase 1 Missions[edit]

Transport flights began under phase 1 of the Commercial Resupply Services contract, CRS 1, in 2012 and are planned to continue into 2015/2016.

Orbital Sciences[edit]

Orbital Sciences rolled out its Antares rocket to the launchpad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in October 2012 in preparation for an on-pad hot-fire test of the rocket in early November 2012. The rocket successfully made its initial launch with a test payload on April 21, 2013.[16]

Orbital Sciences' first COTS demonstration mission was successfully carried out on September 29, 2013., a week behind schedule due to a software malfunction;[17] this is a predecessor mission to the start of Orbital Commercial Resupply Services missions contracted by NASA to resupply the International Space Station.[18][19] CRS-1 and CRS-2 followed on.

Orbital Sciences' 3rd Resupply mission (CRS-3) from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on 28 October 2014 failed. First Antares launch to use Castor 30XL upperstage, delayed due to boat in launch safe zone. Second takeoff attempt suffered a catastrophic anomaly resulting in an explosion shortly after launch. Contents of the cargo included: Food and care packages for the crew, parts, experiments, and the Arkyd-3 Flight Test (Non-optical) Satellite from Planetary Resources. Shortly after lift-off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at 6:22 p.m. (EDT), the vehicle suffered a catastrophic failure. According to NASA’s emergency operations officials, there were no casualties and property damage was limited to the south end of Wallops Island. The company decided to discontinue the Antares 100 series and accelerate the introduction of a new propulsion. The Antares 230 system will be upgraded with newly built RD-181 first-stage engines to provide greater payload performance and increased reliability.[20]

In the meantime, the company has contracted with United Launch Alliance for an Atlas V launch of Orb CRS-4 in late 2015 from Cape Canaveral, FL. That mission will also mark the debut of the bigger Enhanced Cygnus, which will be used for all following CRS contracted missions.[21] A second Cygnus on Atlas V launch is planned for 2016.[20] The company has planned Cygnus missions for the first (Orb CRS-5), second (Orb CRS-6) and fourth quarters (Orb CRS-7) of 2016. Two of which will fly on the new Antares 230 and one on the aforementioned second Atlas V. The switch to the more powerful Atlas V and Antares 230, along Enhanced Cygnus increased volume, will enable Orbital ATK to cover their initial CRS contracted payload obligation by Orb-7.[21][22]

During August, 2015, Orbital ATK disclosed that they had got an extension of the resupply program for three extra missions. Theses additional missions will enable NASA to cover the ISS resupply needs until the Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract enters in effect. The Orb-8E flight has tentatively been scheduled for June 12, 2017 and Orb-9E and Orb-10E flights currently have no public schedule but are expected between 2017 and 2018.[21]


The first CRS mission, SpaceX CRS-1, was scheduled for October 8, 2012 at 00:35 UTC from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida.[4] It was the first of 12 planned resupply missions. CRS-1 took off on October 8, 2012 at 03:03:52 AM GMT, achieved orbit, berthing and remained on station until October 28, 2012. Dragon then re-entered the earth's atmosphere and successfully splashed down in the Pacific Ocean.[23]

SpaceX CRS-2, the second CRS mission from SpaceX, was successfully launched on March 1, 2013.[24]

SpaceX CRS-3, SpaceX's third CRS mission, was scheduled for launch on March 30, 2014,[25] but was delayed due to a fire at one of the radar facilities on the Eastern Range. The launch completed successfully on April 18.

SpaceX CRS-4, SpaceX's fourth CRS mission, was scheduled for launch on September 20, 2014, but was delayed due to adverse weather conditions; the launch occurred on Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 1:52 a.m. EDT (0552 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.[26]

SpaceX CRS-5, SpaceX's fifth CRS mission, was scheduled for launch on December 9, 2014, but was delayed over several dates in December due to manifest adjustments for items lost from the Cygnus CRS Orb-3 launch failure, technical issues found from a static fire test, the U.S. holiday season and staff scheduling, as well as a beta angle period during late December where thermal and operational constraints would make a Dragon berthing prohibited. The launch was rescheduled for January 6, 2015. At 1 minute 27 seconds to launch, the launch was scrubbed due to a thrust vector actuator problem with the second stage engine. The launch was rescheduled to Saturday, January 10, 2015, which completed successfully at 4:47 AM Central time.[27]

SpaceX CRS-6, SpaceX's sixth CRS mission, was successfully launched on April 14, 2015, at 20:10:41 UTC from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

SpaceX CRS-7, SpaceX's seventh CRS mission, was attempted on June 28, 2015 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The mission was unsuccessful, with an anomaly occurring during the ascent of the first stage, resulting in an explosion and a total loss of the vehicle.

Commercial Resupply Services 2[edit]

The Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract definition/solicitation period is currently underway as of early 2014.[15]

On February 21, 2014 NASA posted Request For Information (RFI) NNJ14ZBG007L about a possible follow on to the current Commercial Resupply Services (CRS1) to the International Space Station (ISS).[14]

An "Industry Day" set of meetings was held in Houston on April 10, 2014, where seven high-level requirements for the second Cargo Resupply Services contract solicitation were disclosed to parties who may be interested in contracting with the government to supply "nonscheduled chartered freight air transportation" resupply services to the ISS in the 2015–2024 time period.[15]

The anticipated contract will include "delivery of pressurized and unpressurized cargo, return and disposal of pressurized cargo, disposal of unpressurized cargo, and ground support services for the end-to-end resupply mission" and will include:[15]

  • delivery of approximately 14,000 to 17,000 kg (31,000 to 37,000 lb) per year 55 to 70 m3 (1,900 to 2,500 cu ft) of pressurized cargo in four or five transport trips
  • delivery of 24–30 powered lockers per year, requiring continuous power of up to 120 Watts at 28 Volts, with cooling and two-way communication services
  • delivery of approximately 1,500 to 4,000 kg (3,300 to 8,800 lb) per year of unpressurized cargo, consisting of 3 to 8 items, each item requiring continuous power of up to 250 Watts at 28 Volts, with cooling and two-way communication services
  • return/disposal of approximately 14,000 to 17,000 kg (31,000 to 37,000 lb) per year 55 to 70 m3 (1,900 to 2,500 cu ft) of pressurized cargo
  • disposal of 1,500 to 4,000 kg (3,300 to 8,800 lb) per year of unpressurized cargo, consisting of 3 to 8 items
  • various ground support services for the end-to-end ISS resupply mission

The draft Request For Proposal (RFP) was planned for release in May 2014 with a final RFP in June 2014.[15] Proposals were due in July 2014, and at least two contracts are expected to be awarded in June 2015.

Announced proposals[edit]

Five companies are known to have submitted proposals to NASA: SpaceX, Orbital ATK, Boeing, Sierra Nevada, and Lockheed Martin. Although the contract awards were originally anticipated by NASA in April 2015, they moved back to a June target date, and in April, delayed again to a contract award target date of September 2015.[28]

CRS1 contractors Orbital Sciences and SpaceX have submitted CRS2 proposals.[29] In addition, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and Boeing have submitted proposals. SNC's proposal would use a cargo version of its Dream Chaser crew vehicle, the Dream Chaser Cargo System, while Boeing's proposal would likewise use a cargo version of its CST-100 crew vehicle.[30][31] The proposed cargo Dream Chaser will feature an additional expendable cargo module for uplift and trash disposal. Downlift will only be provided via the Dream Chaser spaceplane itself.[29]

Lockheed Martin has proposed a cargo transport system called Jupiter, a spacecraft that is derived from designs of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission and the Juno spacecraft. It would include a robotic arm, from MDA based on Shuttle Arm technology. The Lockheed proposal includes a new 4.4 m (14 ft)-diameter cargo transport module called Exoliner, based on the ESA Automated Transfer Vehicle, to be jointly developed with Thales Alenia Space.[31][32][33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jason Rhian (27 September 2014). "NASA continues Commercial "push" with CRS extension". Spaceflight Insider. 
  2. ^ Bergin, Chris. "NASA lines up four additional CRS missions for Dragon and Cygnus". Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  3. ^ "NASA Preparing Follow-on Commercial Cargo Delivery Contract". SpaceNews. Retrieved February 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "SpaceX, NASA Target Oct. 7 Launch For Resupply Mission To Space Station". NASA. September 20, 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  5. ^ "Cygnus heads for the International Space Station". September 18, 2013. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 
  6. ^ "NASA Awards Space Station Commercial Resupply Services Contracts". NASA, December 23, 2008.
  7. ^ Chris Bergin (January 15, 2009). "Planetspace officially protest NASA’s CRS selection". 
  8. ^ "B-401016; B-401016.2, PlanetSpace, Inc., April 22, 2009". GAO. April 22, 2009. 
  9. ^ "SpaceX 2011 Update Page". SpaceX. 15 December 2011. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  10. ^ "SpaceX plans November test flight to space station". AFP. 15 August 2011. Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  11. ^ Clark, Stephen (June 2, 2012). "NASA expects quick start to SpaceX cargo contract". SpaceFlightNow. Retrieved June 23, 2012. 
  12. ^ "NASA Administrator Announces New Commercial Crew And Cargo Milestones". NASA. August 23, 2012. Retrieved August 23, 2012. 
  13. ^ "NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services". NASA. Retrieved October 15, 2012. 
  14. ^ a b "COMMERCIAL RESUPPLY SERVICES 2 - RFI NNJ14ZBG007L". NASA. February 21, 2014. Retrieved February 24, 2014. 
  15. ^ a b c d e "International Space Station Commercial Resupply Services 2 Industry Day". ppt file. NASA. 2014-04-10. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  16. ^ Perrotto, Trent J. (April 21, 2013). "NASA Partner Orbital Sciences Test Launches Antares Rocket" (Press release). NASA. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Cygnus docks with International Space Station". September 29, 2013. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Antares home page". Orbital Sciences. October 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Antares press release". Orbital Sciences. October 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  20. ^ a b "Orbital ATK make progress toward Return To Flight of Antares rocket". 2015-08-14. Retrieved 2015-08-14.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  21. ^ a b c Leone, Dan (2015-08-17). "NASA Orders Two More ISS Cargo Missions From Orbital ATK". Retrieved 2015-08-17. 
  22. ^ Leone, Dan (2015-08-20). "NASA Considering More Cargo Orders from Orbital ATK, SpaceX". Retrieved 2015-08-20. 
  23. ^ "NASA Celebrates Dragon's Return". 
  24. ^ "Worldwide Launch Schedule". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved May 28, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Worldwide Launch Schedule". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 2013-10-30. 
  26. ^ "Worldwide launch schedule". Spaceflightnow. 22 November 2012. Retrieved 2014-07-08. 
  27. ^ "CRS-5 Dragon successfully launched – Core ASDS landing attempted". NASASpaceFlight. January 10, 2015. Retrieved January 15, 2015. 
  28. ^ Foust, Jeff (2015-04-21). "NASA Delays Award of Commercial Cargo Follow-On Contracts". Space News. Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  29. ^ a b Jeff Foust (17 March 2015). "Sierra Nevada Hopes Dream Chaser Finds "Sweet Spot" of ISS Cargo Competition". Space News. 
  30. ^ Dan Leone (24 January 2015). "Weather Sat, CRS-2 Top U.S. Civil Space Procurement Agenda for 2015". 
  31. ^ a b Jeff Foust (13 March 2015). "Lockheed Martin Pitches Reusable Tug for Space Station Resupply". Space News. 
  32. ^ Avery, Greg (2015-03-12). "Lockheed Martin proposes building ISS cargo ship for NASA". Denver Business Journal. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  33. ^ ‘Jupiter’ Space Tug Could Deliver Cargo To The Moon, 12 March 2015, retrieved 13 March 2015.

External links[edit]