Lockheed Martin Corp. and the team of Northrop Grumman Corp. and The Boeing Co. have been selected as the two companies that will “fly-off” their Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), as they compete in the design and production process for the Space Shuttle’s replacement.
NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration calls for the CEV to carry up to six astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit soon after the Space Shuttle is retired in 2010, and then on to the moon as early as 2015.
“We’re extremely pleased that NASA has chosen the Northrop-Grumman-Boeing team to play a part in its next space initiative,” said Boeing spokesman Ed Memi. “We hope to have an opportunity to make a mark on space exploration history.”
Lockheed Martin refused to comment.
The CEV acquisition strategy is a multi-phased project. Phase 1 called for industry to mature their crewed vehicle designs and demonstrate their ability to manage the cost, schedule, and risk of human-rated spacecraft development.
Phase 2, covering final CEV design and production, was scheduled to start with a down-selection to a single industry team in 2008. To reduce or eliminate the gap between the Shuttle’s retirement in 2010 and an operational CEV, the Phase 2 down-selection is planned for 2006.
Results of NASA Administrator Michael Griffin’s Exploration Systems Architectural Study will be incorporated into a Call For Improvements later this year to invite Phase 2 proposals from the Phase 1 contractors.