NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Home Welcome to the KSC Next Gen Site

It's about routine, affordable, and safe access to and from space...

Space Transportation Systems

Programs & Projects

Reports, Other

  • "-ilities" - Affordability, Reliability, Safety, Maintainability, Operability, Complexity, Sustainability & Responsiveness

  • Data

The Evolving Landscape of 21st Century American Spaceflight (.pdf)

2013/14 Public-Private Partnerships for Space Capability Development [Report .pdf] [Presentation .pdf]


2009 Review of Human Space Flight Plans Committee Report


Updated: The 2015 NASA Cost Estimating Handbook


2005 NASA Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS)


1994 Commercial Space Transportation Study - Full Text, searchable .pdf, 661 Pages, 42MB (or shorter Executive Summary)


Within Reach, Within Us, Video in mpg format 4 MB

Within Reach, Within Us (video)


Past Programs



NASA Kennedy Space Center


How can we achieve routine, affordable, and safe transportation to and from space? It is the goal of this site to assist in answering that question.


Enabling future space transportation systems growth requires improving multiple elements and their processes. This includes the flight vehicle, the spaceport, and the organization. It requires all of these be optimized, together. Customers, developers, designers and operators working from a whole systems perspective, building on the lessons of the past - that is our emphasis in the next generation of designs for access to space.


April 23, 2015


"The Report of the Independent Review Committee on SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 Certification (.pdf)", Institute for Defense Analysis, Larry D. Welch, General, USAF (Ret.), March 2015

"There is a lack of clarity regarding what the Certifying Official is actually addressing."


"Neither view was the intent of the original certification plan. The intent was a partnership that leveraged the commercial practices and experience of SpaceX and decades of Air Force experience to meet the needs of the Air Force for confidence in the capability and reliability of the SpaceX launch system. In particular, it was never envisioned that the Air Force would drive changes in design, processes, and organization to achieve certification. Neither was it expected the Falcon 9 launch experience would suffice to provide the needed confidence in Falcon 9 v1.1 for national security payloads. Instead, it was expected there would be a manageable set of issues requiring resolution, some requiring resolution at the top level."


"The Balance between the What and How

The daily focus of members of the NECT for the past decade or so has been intensely on confidence in individual successful deliveries to orbit. That requires assessment of specific processes and hardware associated with the specific launch vehicle. The traditional approach is prescriptive."

March 18, 2015



The LCC Model is now available on request. The LCC model is two models in one.

The first model is the Launch System LCC Model:

The Launch System LCC model can be used to generate cost estimates for a semi-reusable / launch system (a system that may have an expendable 2nd stage for example). These cost estimates are outputs. The inputs the model requires are descriptive, asking that a user describe the technical (design, technology) and the non-technical (process/practice) characteristics of the launch system concept.  


The second model is the Human Exploration & Operations Scenario LCC Model:

The Human Exploration & Operations Scenario LCC model does not generate primary cost estimates for space systems (unlike with the Launch System LCC Model). Rather, cost estimates are inputs and the value added is in providing a budget context inclusive of other human spaceflight functions (mission ops, space flight support, etc.) for understanding the feasibility of proposed concepts as scenarios.

March 14, 2015

The NASA Cost Estimating Handbook Version 4.0.

"This is the fourth edition of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Cost Estimating Handbook (CEH), updating the 2008 edition. The purpose of this handbook is to serve as a guide for cost estimating at NASA. The intended audience covers the non-estimating professional and the new cost estimator, as well as experienced analysts. The intent of this revision is to reorganize the document into a summary with detailed appendices, as well as to provide updated content reflecting significant policy changes since the 2008 edition."

March 6, 2015

Edgar Zapata, "Nano-Launcher Technologies, Approaches, and Life Cycle Assessment, Phase II (.pdf)", October 16, 2014


September 24, 2014

NASA's Emerging Space Office (ESO), "The Evolving Landscape of 21st Century American Spaceflight (.pdf)", September 2014

"The next era of space exploration will see governments pushing technological development and the American private sector using these technologies as they expand their economic activities to new worlds. NASA's next objectives for exploration--visits to asteroids and Mars--are more complex than any previous space mission attempted. They will happen in the context of relatively smaller NASA budgets and an expanding commercial space economy. Teaming with private sector partners to develop keystone markets like low Earth orbit (LEO) transportation and technological capabilities like asteroid mining will help NASA achieve its mission goals, help the space economy evolve to embrace new ambitions, and provide large economic returns to the taxpayer through the stimulation and growth of new businesses and 21st century American jobs."

July 30, 2014

[Paper .pdf] [Presentation .pdf] Edgar Zapata, Carey McCleskey, "An Analysis and Review of Measures and Relationships in Space Transportation Affordability," American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Joint Propulsion Conference, July 28-30, 2014


June 26, 2014

Nano-launcher Technology

[Paper .pdf] [Presentation .pdf] Edgar Zapata, Carey McCleskey, John Martin, Roger Lepsch, Tosoc Hernani, "Life Cycle Analysis of Dedicated Nano-Launch Technologies," Commercial and Government Responsive Access to Space Technology Exchange (CRASTE), June 23-27, 2014

"Recent technology advancements have enabled the development of small cheap satellites that can perform useful functions in the space environment. Currently, the only low cost option for getting these payloads into orbit is through ride share programs - small satellites awaiting the launch of a larger satellite, and then riding along on the same launcher. As a result, these small satellite customers await primary payload launches and a backlog exists. An alternative option would be dedicated nano-launch systems built and operated to provide more flexible launch services, higher availability, and affordable prices. The potential customer base that would drive requirements or support a business case includes commercial, academia, civil government and defense. Further, NASA technology investments could enable these alternative game changing options."

June 6, 2014

NASA, "Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, A New Era in Spaceflight" (.pdf)

"From 2006 to 2013, under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program managed by C3PO, NASA acted as an investor and advisor with three different and distinct companies in the space transportation industry to promote the development of U.S. space transportation capabilities on the frontier of human exploration."


"Both the SpaceX and Orbital low- Earth orbit transportation systems were developed with a total NASA COTS investment of just $788 million ($500 original funding plus $288 million fiscal year 2011 augmentation)."


"The NASA Air Force Cost Model (NAFCOM) estimate for the cost to develop the SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicle, based on the NASA environment and culture, ranged from as low as $443 million to as high as approximately $4 billion. However the final cost for developing and demonstrating the Falcon 9 rocket was only about $400 million—up to 10 times less than projected."


"In a June 2009 report, the Government Accountability Office commended C3PO for its responsible use of government monies. Particularly noted was the very small percentage of the program’s budget applied to management and overhead."

June 4, 2014

[Report .pdf] [Presentation .pdf] NASA, "Public Private Partnerships for Space Capability Development, Driving Economic Growth and NASA's Mission," April 2014

"As NASA develops its deep space exploration strategy, identification of options for leveraging private investment and contributing to U.S. economic competitiveness in the process will be critical to establishing a sustainable path."

May 7, 2013

[Paper .pdf] [Presentation .pdf] Edgar Zapata, "New Approaches in Reusable Booster System Life Cycle Cost Modeling," Joint Army Navy NASA Air Force (JANNAF) conference, April 29-May 3, 2013

1990: “Overhead costs were neither visible nor understood, so common practice was to use poorly documented (sometimes proprietary) factors to "burden" the labor estimates. The practice has persisted, even though direct manufacturing labor has nearly disappeared as a cost driver, and overhead has grown to represent more than half the cost of defense systems, and may rise to represent two-thirds of these costs." --"Trends in a Sample of Defense Aircraft Contractors Costs”, James McCullough, Stephen Balut, Institute for Defense Analysis.


2011: “About three-quarters of the 84 recommendations in the EELV should-cost review are associated with overhead and indirect costs”. [link]


2012 & Prior >