The long-awaited decision on which company or companies will win contracts from NASA for the next phase of the agency’s commercial crew program can be expected by the end of this month, according to one report last night.
Charles Lurio, the well-connected publisher of The Lurio Report newsletter about the commercial space industry, tweeted Thursday night that he expected NASA to announce the awardees of the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts either next Friday, August 22, or the following Friday, August 29:
NASA Comm. Crew CCtCap award likely on 22 or 29 Aug.: allows finalization of contracts before likely Contin. Res. (CR) for next FY at 1 Oct.
— Charles A. Lurio (@TheLurioReport) August 14, 2014
The suggested dates raised some eyebrows: why announce on a Friday (particularly the latter date, which would be the Friday before the three-day Labor Day weekend?) However, such a decision would not be unprecedented: when NASA announced the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) awards in August 2012, they also did so on a Friday—the Friday before NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover landed on the Red Planet!
Three companies—Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corp., and SpaceX—are the leading contenders for the CCtCap contracts. Lurio also said he expected NASA to make two “full” awards, rather than one full-sized award and a “half-sized” award that would be enough to allow that company to continue development, albeit as a slower pace:
Also: CCtCap probably two "full" awards, no "half;" depending on $ avail., options to extend now/new active phases under consideration.
— Charles A. Lurio (@TheLurioReport) August 15, 2014
NASA officials have not indicated a specific date for the CCtCap contract announcement, beyond that it would be in the “August-September” timeframe. “Our progress on commercial crew source selection deliberations has been evidently better than we anticipated,” NASA administrator Charles Bolden said in a presentation to the NASA Advisory Council July 30. He said that those awards would come “much sooner than later this year,” but was not more specific.