NASA Outlines Commercial Crew Vehicle Certification Process

Space News reports that NASA has begun to outline the process under which the space agency will certify commercial human space vehicles:

With an eye toward buying its first astronaut taxi services by 2017, NASA on Aug. 8 unveiled details about a safety certification process that will be conducted in parallel with the industry-led development of new crewed space transportation systems.

Under more than $1 billion Space Act Agreements awarded Aug. 3, Boeing Space Exploration, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) and Sierra Nevada Space Systems are developing crew transportation systems designed to carry astronauts to the international space station. These development efforts will be almost entirely guided by industry, with input from NASA. In parallel with the design phase, however, NASA plans to conduct a government-run safety certification process under separate agreements it calls Certification Products Contracts, or CPCs….

A synopsis of the CPC solicitation is due out this month, with a formal request for proposals to follow in September, Mango said at the Aug. 8 forum at Kennedy. Five days after it releases the formal request, NASA will hold another industry day for companies interested in proposing. Awards for these contracts, which will not exceed $10 million, are expected in February, Mango said. NASA expects to make two to four awards under the first phase of CPC. The three companies that just won commercial crew Space Act Agreements do not automatically qualify for a CPC award, Mango said.

Read the full story.