December 12, 2012
Credit: Credit: Sierra Nevada
NASA will spend almost $30 million with the three companies it is backing to develop commercial crew spacecraft to begin safety-rating their vehicles to carry humans.
Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corp. and SpaceX each will get 16-month contracts to begin producing the data that NASA will need to human-rate the companies’ spacecraft, launch vehicles, ground systems and mission operations. Boeing will receive $9,993,000 for work on its CST-100 capsule; Sierra Nevada will get $10 million for its Dream Chaser lifting body, and SpaceX will be paid $9,589,525 to begin the human-rating tasks on its Falcon launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft.
A second phase of the “certification products contracts” will begin in mid-2014, with “full and open competition,” NASA says. That phase will lead to “final development, testing and verifications necessary to allow crewed demonstration flight to the space station.”
“This is the program’s first major, fixed-price contract,” said Ed Mango, manager of the Commercial Crew Program at Kennedy Space Center. “The effort will bring space system designs within NASA’s safety and performance expectations for future flights to the International Space Station.”
The three companies are working under $1.1 billion in Space Act agreements awarded earlier this year to develop the next U.S. route to space for its astronauts under NASA’s post-shuttle plan to transition responsibility for transporting humans to low Earth orbit to the private sector.