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NASA to Seek Bids for New Round of Commercial Space Work

New Boeing Spaceship Targets Commercial Missions
Helping to pave the road for the future of commercial spaceflight, Boeing is hard at work on the research and development of a new space capsule aimed at flying people to the International Space Station. (Image credit: Boeing)

WASHINGTON? NASA intends to make multiple year-longspace act agreement awards to firms seeking to mature technologies insupportof U.S. President Barack Obama's commercial space transportationinitiative byspring of next year, the agency announced Oct. 1.

"Throughthis activity, NASA may be able to spureconomic growth as capabilities for new space markets are created andreducethe gap in U.S. human spaceflight capability" when the space shuttleretires next year, states the announcement posted on the agency?sprocurementweb site. [Top10 Commercial Spaceships]

NASAstarted the CommercialCrew Development(CCDev) program in 2009 with $50 million ineconomic recovery funds. The project led to five contract awards to newandestablished aerospace firms who are currently using the seed money tomaturecapabilities in support of a commercial crew transportation system.

DubbedCommercial Crew Development Round 2, the newawards will comprise a set of follow-on efforts to the existing CCDevinitiative to "further advance commercialcrew space transportationsystem concepts and mature the designand development of elements of the system such as launch vehicles andspacecraft," the document states.

Theagency expects to issue a formal announcement callingfor CCDev 2 proposals by Oct. 25, according to the document, withresponses due45 days later and a final selection of multiple award winners plannedfor March2011.

NASAplans to use its so-called "othertransactions" authority under the NationalAeronautics and Space Actto invest in multiple, competitivelyawarded agreements, though funding for the effort will depend on levelsprovided in pending 2011 U.S. federal spending legislation expectedlater thisyear.

Theagreements are expected to lead to "significantmaturation of commercialcrew systemswith consideration given to NASA?s drafthuman certification requirements and standards or industry equivalentto thoserequirements and standards," the announcement said. NASA plans toconducta preproposal conference within two weeks of its forthcoming release todiscussthe CCDev 2 activity and answer questions, the document states.

Thisarticle was provided by SpaceNews,dedicated to covering all aspects of the space industry.

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Amy Klamper

Amy Klamper is a space reporter and former staff writer for the space industry news publication SpaceNews. From 2004 to 2010, Amy covered U.S. space policy, NASA and space industry professionals for SpaceNews. Her stories included profiles on major players in the space industry, space policy work in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as national policy set by the White House.