Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS)


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Course Outcome

After completion of the course, the reader should be aware of the fundamentals of COTS in the aerospace and defense industry. The reader should also have an understanding of some of the most important AM methods and materials that are commonly used. The context of the course is to introduce and educate the reader on the subject while discussing points of interest such as COTS selection, valuable risk assessment approaches, and safety considerations.

Why Learn about Commercial Off-the-Shelf?

COTS (Commercial Off-the-Shelf) is an adjective that describes software or hardware products that are ready-made and available for sale to the general public. COTS is a commercial item that specifically has not been modified for use and it differs from a Non-Developmental Item (NDI) in the aspect that a NDI is not procured necessarily through commercial avenues but still has been previously developed. MCOTS are military versions of commercial items that have been designed and built to applicable MIL-STDs (or equivalent) that are for sell from commercial companies for military procurement.  Nearly all academic space payload projects use COTS and it is especially important that these be selected and tested for the space environments in which they will operate.


  1. Introduction to Commercial Off-the-Shelf
  2. Use and Success of COTS
  3. COTS Selection
  4. COTS Risk Assessment