After three rounds of Space Act Agreements that leveraged U.S. government funding with private investment to stimulate development of passenger spaceships, NASA is shifting to fixed-priced, Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)-based awards for the CPC effort. The first buy will be for data products related to “an end-to-end Crew Transportation System (CTS) for an ISS design reference mission,” NASA wrote in its Sept. 12 solicitation.
NASA expects to award multiple firms a Certification Products Contract (CPC), each of which will run for 15 months and be worth up to $10 million. The program dovetails with the agency’s ongoing partnerships with Boeing, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) and Sierra Nevada Corp., to develop privately owned space transportation systems capable of flying astronauts to the space station.
“If there are other companies who can demonstrate that they can indeed meet the requirements of the request for proposals, which is that they can develop a system and have already started to do that to a certain point that is integrated, then we’re certainly willing and very open to anybody to put in a proposal,” Commercial Crew Program manager Ed Mango told Space News at the AIAA Space 2012 conference in Pasadena, Calif.
CPC’s first phase is scheduled to begin in February and run through May 30, 2014. The timing is intended to influence commercial spaceship design and operations plans early enough to meet NASA’s space station mission requirements and minimize potentially costly changes and schedule delays later in the development process.