|NASA established the
Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program to develop a competitive
market for crew and cargo flights to the International Space Station (ISS).
The program breaks from the traditional government contracting approach by allowing
the private sector to develop, own, and operate its own launch vehicles in service
of NASA's ISS delivery needs. Unlike today's Space Shuttle, the reusable launch
vehicles (RLV's) developed under COTS will also be able to serve commercial
The original COTS announcement listed several capability requirements. These included the ability to lift a combined total of "up to" 16 tonnes of cargo per year to ISS using two to eight flights per year. Thus, the minimum launch vehicle/cargo carrier would need to be able to haul at least 2 tonnes of cargo per flight.
In August 2006, NASA announced its competitive selection of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Rocketplane-Kistler (RpK) as partners in the COTS program.
In November 2007, PlanetSpace company, announced that it had teamed with aerospace giants Lockheed Martin and ATK to submit a proposal response for NASA's COTS (Commercial Orbital Transportation Services) program. The proposal was triggered by NASA's October 18, 2007 decision to cancel Rocketplane-Kistler's original COTS contract.
Meanwhile, it can be contemplated alongside other proposed launch vehicles like Orbital Sciences Taurus II and SpaceX Falcon 9.
rocket would stand somewhere in the 52 meter height range, including 10 meter
long payload fairing, would weigh 439 tonnes at lift-off.