NASA and the Chairman of the House Commerce, Science, Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, Representative Frank R. Wolf have reached an agreement on commercial crew funding specifically the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability or “CCiCap.” The goal of this agreement between the Subcommittee and NASA is to provide for the fastest, safest and most cost-effective means of domestic access to the International Space Station (ISS), not the creation of a commercial crew industry.
As part of the agreement reached with NASA, the Agency has stated that it will reduce the number of awards anticipated to be made this summer from the four awards made under commercial crew development round two to not more than 2.5 (two full and one partial) CCiCAP awards. The goal of this downselect is to reduce taxpayer exposure by focusing the limited funds NASA has on those participants who are most likely to succeed in providing crew launch services to ISS.
After the CCiCAP phase, NASA also has stated that future commercial crew program funding will only come in the form of Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)-based certification and service contracts. To help prevent a problematic logistical “choke point” at the beginning of the certification phase, NASA will also produce an important new procurement strategy for awarding these FAR-based contracts, which will be mostly completed prior to the awarding of CCiCAP funds.
Finally, NASA has specified that it will vet the financial health and viability of commercial crew participants before providing them CCiCAP funding. NASA will further ensure the government’s “first right of refusal” to acquire property paid for, or acquired, as part of the commercial crew program at a price that reflects the taxpayers’ existing investment in its development.