NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration

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

  • Archives on Space Systems  Affordability, Sustainability, Reliability, Maintainability, Productivity (Flight Rate & Responsiveness) & Safety (the "ility's" and the "ty's)

Website Curator: Edgar Zapata, NASA KSC


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

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

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

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


2009 Review of Human Space Flight Plans Committee Report

2009 Review of Human Space Flight Plans Committee Report


Updated: The 2015 NASA Cost Estimating Handbook

Updated: The 2015 NASA Cost Estimating Handbook


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

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


Within Reach, Within Us (video)

Within Reach, Within Us (video)


Past Programs



NASA Kennedy Space Center


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


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


August 31, 2015

[Paper .pdf] [Presentation .pdf] Allison F. Zuniga, Daniel Rasky, Robert B. Pittman, Edgar Zapata, Roger Lepsch, "Lunar COTS: An Economical and Sustainable Approach to Reaching Mars," American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics, Space 2015, August 31-September 2, 2015


July 29, 2015

Brand Griffin, Roger Lepsch, John Martin, Edgar Zapata, Carey McCleskey, et al,  "Evolvable Mars Campaign Small Habitat Commonality Reduces Cost and Improves Operations (.pdf)," Future In-Space Operations Working Group, July 29, 2015


July 27, 2015

[Paper .pdf] [Presentation .pdf] Edgar Zapata, Alan Wilhite, "Exploring NASA Human Spaceflight and Pioneering Scenarios," 51st AIAA / SAE / ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference & Exhibit, July 27-29, 2015



July 22, 2015


Miller, C., Wilhite, A., Cheuvront, D., Kelso, R., McCurdy, H., Zapata, E., "Economic Assessment and Systems Analysis of an Evolvable Lunar Architecture that Leverages Commercial Space Capabilities and Public-Private-Partnerships (.pdf)," NexGen Space LLC under a grant from NASA, 2015

"Based on the experience of recent NASA program innovations, such as the COTS program, a human return to the Moon may not be as expensive as previously thought."

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."

March 6, 2015

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


September 24, 2014

"The Evolving Landscape of 21st Century American Spaceflight (.pdf)," NASA's Emerging Space Office (ESO), 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," 50th AIAA / SAE / ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference & Exhibit, 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."