Over one year on from the first successful commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS), NASA today declared its commercial space program a complete success. This comes as NASA is ending its Comercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) initiative, which has achieved its goal of creating reliable and cost-effective commercial transportation of materials to and from the ISS.
"America’s best days in space exploration are ahead of us thanks to the grit and determination of those in government, and the private sector, who dare to dream big dreams and have the skills to turn them into reality," said Charles Bolden, NASA administrator. "We’ve ended the outsourcing of space station resupply work and brought those jobs back home to America. The commercial space industry will be an engine of 21st century American economic growth and will help us carry out even more ambitious deep space exploration missions."
Two years ago NASA shut down its Space Shuttle program, leaving the U.S. without a reliable way to transport astronauts or supplies to the ISS and back. The country has had to rely on foreign space programs for its space transportation needs. Now, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences will be providing spaceflight capabilities for materials for all currently planned U.S. experiments on the ISS.
With the COTS program now ended, NASA is looking to the private sector for future manned spaceflight missions. The agency is now looking for commercial partners to transport astronauts to the ISS and back. This initiative could be complete by as soon as 2017.
"The COTS program was a great success -- not only for NASA and the commercial space industry, but also the American taxpayer," said Gwynne Shotwell, president and COO of SpaceX . "Together, NASA and SpaceX restored cargo transport capabilities to the United States and also laid the foundation for the future transport of American astronauts. SpaceX appreciates NASA’s ongoing support and is honored to partner with them in these efforts."