Editor's note: This information was sent to the Hill today by NASA Legislative Affairs:
"NASA has initiated the Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS) in an effort to minimize the gap between the final Space Shuttle mission and the maiden flight of an operational Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV). Attached is the NASA Memorandum signed on April 29, 2005 by Administrator Griffin which initiated the ESAS."
"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has embarked upon a rigorous review of the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) architecture to determine opportunities to minimize the gap between an operational CEV and retirement of the Shuttle in 2010. This assessment is a part of the "Exploration Systems Architecture Study", which was chartered by the NASA Administrator on April 29, 2005. The product of this analysis is anticipated by mid-July 2005.
The Exploration Systems Architecture Study will take place concurrent with the evaluation of offeror proposals received May 2, 2005 in response to NASA CEV Request for Proposal (RFP) issued March 1, 2005 by the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD). The RFP contemplated award of up to two competitive contracts with down-select to a single contractor in 2008, based on offerors' responses to a planned letter request for Phase 2 proposals to be issued by the ESMD CEV contracting officer.
To facilitate minimizing the gap, up to two contracts are expected to be awarded prior to completion of the Exploration Systems Architecture Study. Following these awards a "Call for Improvements" (CFI) based on the results of the Exploration Systems Architecture Study will be issued to the selected contractor(s). CFI proposals will be evaluated for a final down-select decision to a single contractor expected in early 2006.
The CEV competitive source selection for offeror proposals received May 2, 2005 is progressing in accordance with the terms of the RFP. The NASA source evaluation board (SEB) is sequestered at the designated secure facility, and is not involved in the Exploration Systems Architecture Study deliberations. Segregation of these activities ensures fair and objective assessments of (1) SEB evaluation of CEV offeror proposals in response to RFP criteria and (2) Exploration Systems Architecture Study gap minimization analyses which may result in a revised CEV architecture."