WASHINGTON — NASA expects to award nearly $300 million in Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) agreements to multiple providers April 18 to continue work on launchers and spacecraft capable of transporting astronauts to and from low Earth orbit on a commercial basis.

NASA announced last October that it expected to make the CCDev 2 awards this spring. In February the agency invited eight companies to the Johnson Space Center in Houston to discuss proposals they submitted in December: Alliant Techsystems (ATK), Blue Origin, Boeing, Excalibur Almaz, Orbital Sciences Corp., Sierra Nevada Corp., Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and United Launch Alliance (ULA).

A callback is no guarantee of an award; NASA is expected to name at least four winners of second-round, CCDev 2 agreements, according to industry sources.

Announcement of the awards was expected April 6, but government and industry sources said that was put on hold until Congress approved a stopgap spending measure April 14 that will fund federal agencies, including NASA, through the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30. The 2011 appropriation, known as a continuing resolution, includes $3.8 billion for NASA’s exploration systems development office, which funds commercial crew initiatives.

NASA started the CCDev program in 2009 with $50 million in seed money awarded to a mix of five new and established aerospace firms, including Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada and ULA. The companies used the funding to refine technologies in support of U.S. President Barack Obama’s plan to nurture commercial services for transporting astronauts to low Earth orbit.



NASA Solicits Bids for Multiple 2011 CCDev 2 Awards