NASA Awards Contracts to Competing CEV Teams

WASHINGTON --NASA has picked Lockheed Martin and the team of Northrop Grumman and Boeing towork on competing designs for the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), thespacecraft the U.S.space agency hopes to field around 2010 as a replacement for the space shuttle.

NASA released no information on the value of thecontracts awarded to the two teams or the period of performance, but did saythe agency plans to have two contractors compete at this stage of theprocurement of an eventual shuttle replacement.

NASA said in a press release dated June 13 that thesecond phase of the CEV competition will cover the final CEV design andproduction. Phase 2 originally was scheduled to start with a down-selection toa single industry team in 2008. To reduce or eliminate the gap between theShuttle's retirement in 2010 and an operational CEV, the Phase 2 selection of asingle winner now is planned for 2006, NASA said in its June 13 release.

By the time NASA Administrator Mike Griffin announcedin late April his intention to forgo a lengthy competition and pick a primecontractor early next year in hope of getting the CEV done as close to thespace shuttle's 2010 retirement date as possible, the Lockheed Martin andNorthrop Grumman-Boeing teams had largely completed their proposals.

Those proposals were built around the assumption thatNASA would hold a prototype fly-off in 2008 that would help the agency pick theteam it wanted to design and build a CEV that could be ready to carryastronauts by 2014. The two teams were anticipating three-year contracts worthabout $1 billion each.

NASA went ahead and accepted the proposals fromLockheed Martin and the Northrop-Boeing team in early May but warned that NASAacquisition strategy for the CEV was bound to change.

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