NASA Contracts: The Beginner’s Guide to How NASA Does Business


  • How NASA Does Business

  • The FAR and NASA FAR Supplement

  • Slow Procurements and Cost-plus Contracts

  • All Articles About NASA Contracts

The way NASA does business is the beginning to everything we do.

And at its foundation is how the agency uses Requests for Proposals (RFPs), contracts, procurements, and Source Evaluation Boards (SEBs) to award contracts—and to ultimately enter into legal agreements with private sector companies to get things designed and built.

This process is defined in the 2000-page Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) document. NASA also follows the NASA FAR Supplement, which is about 600 pages.

I spent nearly five years of my career working in secured areas as a voting member on two Source Evaluation Boards (SEBs). It was an amazing opportunity to see how NASA awards contracts up close.

In the articles below, I’ll give a high-level overview of the procurement process and make the case that improving this process is one of the most important things the agency can do to become more effective.

Along the way, I’ll also present several different contract types and explain how each affects contract risk and ownership of the technology—which has a lot to do with how NASA does New Space contractually.

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About the Author

David Mixson writes about Old Space and New Space. He worked as an engineer at NASA for more than thirty years and is the author of three books.