Commercial Orbital Transportation Services
is a NASA
program to coordinate the delivery of crew and cargo to the International Space Station
by private companies. The program was announced on January 18, 2006.
COTS must be distinguished from the related Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) program. COTS relates to the development of the vehicles, CRS to the actual deliveries. COTS involves a number of Space Act Agreements
, with NASA providing milestone-based payments. COTS does not involve binding contracts. CRS on the other hand does involve legally binding contracts, which means the suppliers would be liable if they failed to perform. Commercial Crew Development
(CCDev) is a related program, aimed specifically at developing crew rotation services. It is similar to COTS-D. All three programs are managed by NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO).
NASA signed agreements with Rocketplane Kistler
(RpK) and Alliant Techsystems
(ATK) in 2006, but later terminated the agreement with RpK due to insufficient private funding. NASA awarded another round of contracts for cargo delivery to the International Space Station in December 2008, to Orbital Sciences
to utilize their COTS cargo vehicles.
Instead of flying payloads to the International Space Station
(ISS) on government-operated vehicles, NASA would... Read More