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Commercialization Activities at NASA and Resulting Cost Implications

Applications Track



Due to mandates of the current Obama Administration, much of the space launch activities that have traditionally been led and contracted out by NASA are being turned over to the Commercial Sector. NASA’s role is changing in many instances from being a program manager – overseeing development of space launch hardware and conducting space exploration missions – to that of a supplier and manager of facilities and infrastructure to support the space development and launch activities of commercial entities.

Several different legislative and legal authorities are used to implement Agreements that enable these space related activities – as well as other activities being conducted by commercial companies at NASA sites. These authorities include the National Aeronautics and Space Act (which created NASA) – passed by Congress in 1958, the Economy Act of 1932, the Commercial Space Launch Act (CSLA) in 1984, and the more recent Commercial Space Competitiveness Act (CSCA).

Each of these authorities has a somewhat different purpose and scope, and somewhat different implications regarding how NASA facilities are leased or made available, as well as how they are priced. Some of these require a market-based approach to pricing, while others allow a full cost or only a direct cost approach. Some cost definitions (especially that of direct costs) have been points of contention, as well.

This discussion will address the different authorities and provide some insights into how different agreements are being put into place, and how costs for NASA facilities and services are being priced and passed along to commercial companies, or either being partially absorbed by NASA. In addition to the above agreements, land leases and use permits have been used as well.

Examples of some of these types of agreements and the pricing questions that arose will be discussed – as well as the variety of types of efforts being undertaken – ranging from resupply of the International Space Station (ISS) and development of new space launch vehicles – to use of the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) runway for race car testing.

This paper and presentation will, hopefully, provide some valuable insight into current activities and changes at NASA (focusing on Kennedy Space Center); as well as how costs and pricing policies are being impacted and developed to support this “new way of doing business” for NASA.


James Roberts
NASA – Kennedy Space Center
Jim Roberts is currently a Senior Cost Analyst with NASA Kennedy Space Center. He holds a B.S. degree in Physics and Math from the University of Georgia and a M.B.A. in Economics from Georgia State University in Atlanta. Jim began his career as a computer analyst where he has worked for Merrill Lynch, Coca Cola and Boeing Computer Services. Jim began his involvement in cost estimating in 1984 while working for Control Data Corporation (where he worked with Frank Freiman in marketing and training for the FAST Parametric Models).

Mr. Roberts began his career with NASA at Langley Research Center in 1987, where he performed parametric cost estimates of spacecraft instruments and proposed launch vehicle concepts. He also served on a NASA-wide Advanced Missions Working Group. Mr. Roberts has also worked in Langley’s Programs & Resources, and in Procurement doing contract pricing. Jim transferred to Kennedy Space Center in 2001 to work in an Independent Assessment group where he has developed and reviewed project cost estimates as well as cost estimating policy. In addition, he has served on several large KSC Source Evaluation Boards. Jim is currently in the KSC CFO Office where he reviews cost estimates and works on policy and pricing of Commercial Agreements. Jim holds both the CCE/A and CPP certifications.

Torrance Lambing
NASA – Kennedy Space Center
Terry Lambing is currently a Cost Estimating/Analysis Officer with the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) at the Kennedy Space Center in the CFO’s Business & Cost Assessment Office. He holds a BA degree in Business Administration Management from the University of Houston. Terry has (30) years of government work experience and currently serves as the Business Policy Manager.

Terry began his involvement in cost estimating in 1988 while working at NASA Johnson Space Center on numerous flight hardware projects. He currently Administers, Prices, & Reviews, cost estimates and reimbursable policy on Government & Commercial Space Act Agreements, Enhanced Use Leases, Commercial Space Launch Agreements and other commercialization efforts. He authored and implemented the current Market Based Pricing Guide at KSC that is used by government and commercial aerospace companies in the Central Florida Area. He is a NASA Certified Cost Estimating & Analysis Expert and Board Member of the Society of Cost Estimating & Analysis (SCEA) Central Florida Chapter.