NSS Roadmap to Space Settlement Milestone 4: Establishment of In-Space Commerce by Private Companies

Establishment of commerce in or between locations in space by one or more companies.

Satellite serviciingIn-orbit satellite repair. Image: NASA


In-space commerce involves operations such as delivery of goods from one location in space to any other location in space or performance of services for any facility in space. Delivery of propellants from LEO to a propellant depot at the Earth-Moon L1 point and production of propellants on the Moon are good examples. Some forms of space commerce (as distinct from in-space commerce) already exist in the form of delivery of goods from Earth to LEO. In-space commerce also includes the manufacturing of products on space stations for later use on Earth or in space.


The enterprise(s) would need to be profit making and primarily without subsidies or special governmental protection from failure.

The company(s) would be providing products or services to locations in space which could include tourism. (Note the overlap with space tourism in Milestone 3.)


Uncertainty about what activities will be profitable and what customers will exist due to rapidly changing space transportation costs and interests of government agencies.


This milestone can be considered achieved when a company has made a profit on its in-space operations for at least five years.


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