NASA expects to issue a draft solicitation around Dec. 12 for $200 million worth of research awards it intends to make late next year for the development of advanced booster concepts for the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket.

NASA intends to use solid rocket boosters from the space shuttle program to power the SLS core stage on the rocket’s early flights — the first of which is targeted for 2017 — and eventually transition to advanced solid- or liquid-fueled boosters promising improved affordability, performance and reliability.

Industry will be given until Jan. 13 to comment on the draft solicitation, NASA said in a Dec. 1 synopsis posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website. A final version is tentatively planned for release in February and NASA intends to make a minimum of two awards by October. The contracts would run through March 2015 and are expected to be worth around $25 million to $100 million each, the synopsis said.