Boeing has released crucial details of its commercial crew integrated capability (CCiCap) bid that it delivered to NASA on 23 March.
The company has twice won awards under the commercial crew development (CCDev) programme, predecessor to CCiCap, to work on its CST-100 capsule. CCDev was meant to stimulate development of vehicles to transport astronauts to the International Space Station.
"It's really in two phases," says John Mulholland, the capsule's programme manager, of the latest bid. "There's a 21-month base period where we'll accomplish our critical design review and a significant amount of risk reduction design testing, and we will culminate at the end of the option period with a two-crew flight test."
Mulholland confirms that Boeing will use a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V in 412 configuration, adding that human-rating the Atlas V is part of Boeing's CCiCap bid. Currently the Atlas is being human-rated by ULA. Under an unfunded Space Act Agreement (SAA) with NASA, ULA gets access to NASA's technical assistance, but no financial help. Boeing's formal inclusion of Atlas allows its human-rating progress to be funded milestones for the CST-100 programme.
Despite Boeing's relation to the Atlas - ULA is a joint Lockheed/Boeing business venture -- Mulholland confirms that discussions have been held with SpaceX and ATK for possible launches when CCiCap transitions to a services contract in 2016. Both SpaceX and ATK have submitted bids for CCiCap and compete with ULA for launch business.
"NASA has requested a minimum of one milestone per quarter, and we've got a little bit more than one per quarter that we've estimated," says Mulholland. "And when we've looked at it, we've set milestones for every different aspect of the programme."
Boeing's CCiCap bid, if selected for the full, $500 million award, "gets us all the way through the two-crewed flight test, which would be our last certification milestone before we entered into the service phase", Mulholland adds.
NASA declines to comment on either the CCiCap bids or the selection dates, but several parties with knowledge of the situation expect award announcements by 1 August.