The following press release from NASA would seem to suggest that the decision period for the final round of the Commercial Crew program may be slipping a bit as the current round CCiCap, is extended to August 2014 with the decision to fund several optional milestones. Also noteworthy, SpaceX still appears to be well in advance of Boeing in terms of its schedule. Finally, note the obligatory nod to SLS/Orion which accompanies every press release about Commercial Crew.
NASA Press Release:
NASA announced Thursday it is adding some additional milestones to agreements with three U.S. commercial companies that are developing spaceflight capabilities that could eventually provide launch services to transport NASA astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil.
NASA is supporting the development of these capabilities through its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative. As part of this initiative, NASA is exercising and funding specific additional milestones for these next generation space transportation systems. The agency has extended the Space Act Agreements (SAAs) for The Boeing Company of Houston, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., and Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) of Louisville, Colo., to include one or two additional milestones each under CCiCap.
“Our commercial partners are on-track developing innovative, new space systems that can safely, reliably and affordably transport astronauts and end the gap in U.S. human spaceflight capabilities,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “These additional milestones are specifically targeted by NASA and our partners to reduce risk and improve development efforts.”
In their respective CCiCap SAAs, which were awarded in August 2012, NASA’s partners listed optional milestones that could be exercised to continue the development and maturation of their space systems. After negotiation with the partners, NASA decided to fund revised portions of existing CCiCap optional milestones and extend the period of performance for the CCiCap SAAs from May 2014 to August 2014. The industry partners also will be contributing financially to the execution of these milestones. The revisions, in the form of amendments to the SAAs, are posted online at:
The milestones are:
— Boeing Spacecraft Safety Review. NASA’s investment is $20 million and the milestone is planned to be accomplished in July 2014.
— SpaceX Dragon Parachute Tests. NASA’s investment is $20 million and the milestone is planned to be accomplished over several months culminating in November 2013.
— SNC Incremental Critical Design Review #1. NASA’s investment is $5 million and the milestone is planned to be accomplished in October 2013.
— SNC Incremental Reaction Control System Testing #1. NASA’s investment is $10 million and the milestone is planned to be accomplished in July 2014.
These milestones each reduce risks, advance the partners’ development efforts or accelerate schedules consistent with the goals of CCiCap. NASA plans to use fiscal year 2014 funding for the total government investment of $55 million. Funding these optional milestones does not alter or affect NASA’s acquisition strategy for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
While NASA works with U.S. industry partners to develop and advance new commercial space capabilities, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration in the solar system, including to an asteroid and Mars.