What was the first commercial space vehicle, that is not the property of a government entity; to make a delivery of goods to a community (one or more) in Earth orbit that was at the time occupied by human(s) who arrived by a separate means of transportation.

Looking for the first time, "Bobs Express Space Delivery" was hired to and succeeded in making a delivery. Bob loads the goods into a vehicle he owns and operates, and delivers to someone in space.

I will give 50 bonus points for an answer that includes a copy of the delivery receipt, signed by a member of the space community that received the delivery.

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    $\begingroup$ This is only tangentially related to your question, but I think you might like it: after Apollo 13 was successfully recovered, Grumman (the company that build the Lunar Module which the astronauts used as a "lifeboat") sent NASA a "bill" for "services rendered" - it was a bill for towing the command module! I've found two versions of it online, the second one seems easier to read: 1) 1.bp.blogspot.com/-pIV1VpwFwbc/URgsgnm0pQI/AAAAAAAADxI/… 2) images.spaceref.com/news/2013/apollo13ltr.m.jpg $\endgroup$
    – Nickolai
    Apr 15, 2014 at 16:55
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    $\begingroup$ Interesting Wikipedia I had not been aware of this previously. Thanks :) $\endgroup$ Apr 15, 2014 at 17:01

1 Answer 1


I think the only two such examples would be Dragon and Cygnus vehicles. In those cases, NASA paid for the services, but does not own the launcher or vehicle (as it did in the case of Saturn 1B/V (Skylab) or Space Shuttle).

So Dragon's first mission to the ISS was May 25, 2012, as a COTS 2/3 Demo flight, and delivered cargo. SpaceX owns the launcher, the Dragon vehicle, and received payment for the flight. In fact, the various used Dragons, are displayed at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, CA, since they belong to SpaceX after the mission, not NASA.

Cygnus's first such flight, also a demo flight, was Sept 18, 2013.

To disqualify other possibilities: Progress/Soyuz - Launcher and space craft owned by Russian/Soviet government. HTV - Launcher and space craft owned and provided by JAXA, Japanese space agency. ATV - Launcher (owned by Arianespace) and vehicle owned by ESA, European space agency.

Apollo capsule, on a Saturn 1B resupplied the Skylab missions, but they too were government owned.

Not sure the Chinese system has progressed far enough yet, in terms of a real station, but Tiadong would be the same as Soyuz in this context anyway.


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