NASA releases RFP for commercial crew certification

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NASA has released a request for proposal (RFP) for the first phase of contracts to certify commercial crew vehicles, a compliment to the commercial crew integrated capability (CCiCap) awards announced in August.

The latest RFP will see multiple awards of $10 million, with a single provider selected for phase two. Downselect announcements are expected in February 2013, says Ed Mango, commercial crew programme manager.

The RFP is distinct from but related to the CCiCap awards, which totaled $1.1 billion. While NASA intends that CCiCap winners Boeing, SpaceX and Sierra Nevada eventually provide service-based flights to the International Space Station (ISS), the contracts signed do not legally obligate the winners to seek NASA certification or conform to stringent NASA standards. The RFP provides a mechanism that would allow CCiCap winners formally seek NASA certification.

The RFP, stresses Mango, is open to all bidders, not just CCiCap winners. Two CCiCap winners, Boeing and Sierra Nevada, have announced they will respond to the RFP.