NASA has authorized contract extensions for development of the agency’s new Crew Exploration Vehicle.

The companies, Lockheed Martin Corp., and a team of Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., and The Boeing Co., were selected as CEV Phase 1 contractors in June 2005. They have been working with NASA to define requirements and develop conceptual designs for the agency’s next-generation vehicle for human space flight.

The estimated maximum total value for each Phase 1 contract, including the extension to Aug. 31 and the optional extension periods, is approximately $60 million for each contractor. The approximate value of the basic extension period from March 31 to Aug. 31 is $17.5 million for each contractor; the approximate value of each two-month option is $7 million.

One of the Phase 1 contractors will be selected as the Phase 2 prime contractor to design, develop, test, evaluate and produce the CEV. Although the new contract authorizations include options that could extend the Phase 1 work until December, NASA expects to select the Phase 2 prime contractor by August.

The new contract extends Phase 1 work from March 31 until Aug. 31 and adds options for a pair of two-month extensions for each contractor. The first two-month option would extend Phase 1 work to Oct. 31, 2006. The second two-month option would extend Phase 1 work to Dec. 31. 2006.

The new spacecraft is expected to carry up to six astronauts into Earth orbit soon after the space shuttle is retired in 2010 and then on to the moon by 2018. The Crew Exploration Vehicle is a key element of the Vision for Space Exploration, which returns human explorers to the moon, Mars, and beyond.

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