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NPD 8610.12G
Effective Date: February 23, 2005
Expiration Date: September 23, 2015
Printable Format (PDF)

(NASA Only)

Subject: Human Exploration and Operation Mission Directorate (HEOMD) Space Transportation Services for NASA and NASA-Sponsored Payloads (Updated w/Change 1, 7/9/2013)

Responsible Office: Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate

Change History

NPD 8610.12G, Human Exploration and Operation Mission Directorate (HEOMD) Space Transportation Services for NASA and NASA-Sponsored Payloads

Update changing title from Space Operations Mission Directorate (SOMD) and OSO references to Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD).


a. Consistent with law and national policy, it is NASA's policy to fly payloads on launch vehicles manufactured in the United States, unless otherwise approved by the Administrator in coordination with the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and in accorandance with OSTP Policy.

b. NASA shall provide/arrange space transportation services for NASA and NASA-sponsored payloads that require the Space Shuttle as well as commercial and Department of Defense (DoD) launch services, which may include Expendable Launch Vehicle (ELV), carrier systems, upper stages, or other space transportation services. In addition, HEOMD may provide transportation services (e.g., Space Shuttle, ELV, etc.) to entities outside NASA on a reimbursable and/or cooperative basis.

c. NASA shall provide use and acquisition of Space Shuttle launch services as follows:

(1) Conform to the Space Shuttle Use Policy set forth in the NASA Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 1991, Section 112 and the Commercial Space Act of 1998, Section 201, as follows:

(a) Payloads will be assigned for launch on the Space Shuttle only when:

(i) The payload requires human presence; or

(ii) When the payload requires the unique capabilities of the Space Shuttle; or

(iii) When other compelling circumstances for assigning the payload to the Space Shuttle exist, such as: when commercial (ELV) launch services are not cost-effective, are not reasonably available, or would not be available when required; the use of commercial (ELV) launch services poses an unacceptable risk of loss of a unique scientific opportunity; or assigning the payload to the Space Shuttle serves important national security or foreign policy purposes.

(b) Space Shuttle capabilities in excess of primary mission requirements shall be used to accommodate secondary payloads that do not require human presence if such payloads are consistent with NASA requirements for research, development, demonstration, scientific, commercialization, or educational purposes.

(2) Space Shuttle use shall be focused on completing assembly of the International Space Station (ISS). Space Shuttle use priorities shall be identified consistent with the national Space Exploration Policy. The Space Shuttle flight rate will be reviewed at least annually to ensure Agency priorities for launch on the Space Shuttle are met.

(3) A pricing policy for Space Shuttle services for any non-ISS payloads will be developed as appropriate on a case-by-case basis.

d. NASA shall provide use and acquisition of launch services, acquired from commercial providers or DoD as follows:

(1) NASA or NASA-sponsored primary payloads shall be assigned for launch to the appropriate class launch vehicle when the requirement for Space Shuttle use stated in 1.c. is not met.

(2) NASA shall procure launch services for NASA and NASA- sponsored primary payloads from commercial providers.

(3) When commercial launch services are not available to satisfy the requirements of a NASA or NASA-sponsored payload, NASA may request the use of launch services from the DoD and/or foreign suppliers, consistent with law and national policy.

(4) Secondary payloads consistent with NASA requirements for research, development, demonstration, scientific, commercialization, or educational purposes may be accommodated using excess capabilities of launch services.

(5) NASA provided/arranged launch services costs shall be funded by the NASA or NASA-sponsored payload/mission customer. Launch costs for an individual mission will be provided to the Headquarters customer at the time of service award and will be updated as appropriate during the annual Agency budget planning process. Launch costs may include the following: advanced planning/integration, launch service, mission unique hardware and analytics requirements, safety and mission assurance requirements, launch site payload processing, etc., based on individual mission requirements.


This NPD is applicable to NASA Headquarters and NASA Centers, including Component Facilities and Technical and Service Support Centers. This language applies to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a Federally Funded Research and Development Center, other contractors, grant recipients, or parties to agreements only to the extent specified or referenced in the appropriate contracts, grants or agreements.


a. 42 U.S.C., 2473(c)(1), National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, as amended.

b. 42 U.S.C., 2465a, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 1991, as amended.

c. 42 U.S.C., 2466 et seq., National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act, 1986, as amended.

d. 42 U.S.C., 14701 et seq., Commercial Space Act of 1998, as amended.


NPD 1360.2, Initiation and Development of International Cooperation

Space and Aeronautics Program dated April 16, 1999 (Revalidated 3/27/09).

NPD 8610.7, Launch Services Risk Mitigation Policy for NASA-Owned or NASA- Sponsored Payloads, dated January 31, 2008.

NPD 8700.3, Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA) Policy for NASA Spacecraft, Instruments, and Launch Services, dated October 28, 2008.


a. NASA shall:

(1) Plan and request budget approval to safely operate the Space Shuttle and to maintain sustaining technical management and acquisition capability for the Launch Services Program.

(2) Provide timely coordination with the NASA payload/mission customers with regard to HEOMD space transportation scheduling, technical, programmatic, financial, and policy matters.

(3) Be responsible for the Flight Planning Board (FPB), in accordance with the FPB Charter (NC 1000-15), which ensures that payloads accommodated on the Space Shuttle are consistent with established Space Shuttle use policy; provides the forum for addressing user space launch requirements and priorities; ensures compliance with Agency launch services risk mitigation and vehicle assignment policy; in accordance with NPD 8610.7, and approves official contractual launch dates.

(4) Review and approve the annual Space Shuttle Use Policy Certification Report to Congress.

(5) Develop, maintain, and publish launch schedules in coordination with HEOMD customers.

(6) Endeavor to avoid adverse cost impacts to NASA space transportation customers that could result from situations such as launch schedule delays.

(7) Provide cost information on HEOMD space transportation services required by the payload for inclusion in the budget of the HEOMD customer responsible for the payload.

(8) Include the cost of payload impacts in comparative cost trades, in consultation with HEOMD customers, as appropriate, and when making space transportation services planning decisions.

(9) Authorize and initiate HEOMD program/Center activities to meet agreed-upon requirements of the payload and the mission.

(10)Establish points of contact at OSO Centers for consultation and coordination with the NASA Center points of contact.

b. HEOMD customers, including certain HEOMD offices, responsible for NASA or NASA-Sponsored Payloads requiring launch on the Space Shuttle and/or launch services, shall perform the following:

(1) Support, as appropriate, the activities of the HEOMD and FPB.

(2) Submit launch service requirements to the HEOMD. Such requests are to be submitted at the earliest practical date to allow inclusion in HEOMB budget planning.

(3) For each payload requiring space transportation services, designate a Headquarters point of contact to work with the HEOMD on policy, priority, scheduling, and funding matters.

(4) Provide funds for payload-specific or mission-specific SOMD space transportation services.

(5) Include the cost and/or value of space transportation services in comparative cost trades and announcements of opportunity, in consultation with the HEOMD as appropriate, when making payload- planning decisions.

(6) Endeavor to avoid adverse cost impacts to SOMD that could result from situations such as launch delays requested or caused by the payload.

(7) Provide for transportation of payloads to the launch site.

(8) For NASA-sponsored payloads, obtain the concurrence/signature of the AA for HEOMD on any proposed cooperative arrangement that would involve the commitment of the HEOMD space transportation services and/or use of foreign launch capability in accordance with NPD 1360.2B.




a. Compliance with the NPD will be evaluated on a continuing basis by the HEOMD and the HEOMD customers through the FPB meetings, which will consider all the factors that affect the efficient and productive accommodation of payloads on HEOMD-provided/arranged space transportation. These include timely and comprehensive exchange of information by both parties concerning: launch vehicle capabilities, manifests, schedules, cost of services, payload descriptions and characteristics, payload requirements, and payload schedules.

b. Annually, the HEOMD will review the payloads in process over the past year and identify any issues that have arisen in the areas covered by this NPD, together with corrective action to overcome the problems and minimize future occurrences of similar problems.


NPD 8610.12F, dated February 23, 2005.


April 13, 2010, Original signed by

/s/ Frederick D. Gregory
Acting Administrator



Payload. A specific complement of instruments, equipment, and support hardware carried into space to accomplish a mission or a discrete activity in space.

NASA Payload. A payload developed by a NASA Mission Directorate or office, either in-house or under contract.

NASA-Sponsored Payload. A payload provided by a non-NASA entity under formal agreement with a NASA Mission Directorate or office; e.g., international cooperative payloads, NASA space commercialization payloads.

HEOMD Customer. An office (a Mission Directorate or other office) within NASA Headquarters responsible for a particular NASA or NASA- sponsored payload (including the International Space Station and Space Communications Offices within the HEOMD).


B.1 Flight Planning Board Charter (NC 1000-15), dated March 26, 2008.

B.2 Launch Services Program Commitment Agreement, dated May 22, 2003.

B.3 NASA Authorization Act, October 15, 2008 (PL 110-422).

B.4 Space Shuttle Program Commitment Agreement, dated January 3, 2007.

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