NASA and its contractors have until 2008 to prove that the USA’s Vision for Space Exploration and its new transport systems are viable, says NASA deputy administrator Shana Dale. The significance of 2008 is not technical but political – it is the next presidential election year. The next US government may not be prepared to support the funding plan, which envisages year-on-year above-inflation budget increases, said Dale at the US Space Foundation’s 22nd National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.
NASA expects to select a contractor for the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) later this year, has placed a contract for the CEV Launch Vehicle’s (CLV) first stage and has requested information on its second stage. The CLV first stage’s motor could be test-fired in 2008. NASA has announced it intends to award a contract for the design, development and testing of the CLV upper stage’s J-2X engine to Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.