NASA is delaying its selection of a Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) prime contractor and has issued the competing consortiums with more changes to CEV requirements.
Conceptual mission architecture trade studies including launch vehicle work are now the responsibility of NASA and the industry teams are to focus on technology analyses for most of the CEV’s systems. The two consortiums are led by Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.
The CEV consists of a capsule-shaped crew module and a solar-powered service module. NASA has told the consortiums it will provide the crew module’s liquid oxygen/methane engines, heat shield and parachute system. An industry source welcomed the new information, provided at the end of November, saying NASA’s changes meant “less ambiguity”, although the space agency has delayed its contractor selection date to July 2006.
“Downselect will not be in March, it will be sometime in 2006,” says NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate constellation systems division director Michael Hecker.
The downselect will pick the winner of Phase 2, the second part of the CEV solicitation process, which began in March this year. The solicitation for Phase 2 is to be published in January. For this, NASA is carrying out a survey of what manned space vehicle development capabilities it has and what contractors will have to supply.