Although one NASA official said on December 15 that the recent budget cut by Congress would delay the operational status of commercial crew flights until 2017, one report suggests NASA is still on track to narrow the field of finalists.
Space News reports that NASA will solicit final proposals from the CCDev participants on February. A formal Request for Proposal had been scheduled for December 19, but was delayed after NASA decided to abandon its former strategy due to the budget cut.
According to Space News:
NASA will solicit proposals in February for the third phase of a program aimed at developing commercially operated astronaut transportation systems, an agency official said Dec. 20.
NASA wants to pick at least two winners by August, Ed Mango, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager, said during a conference call.
Mango described the next phase of NASA’s commercial crew program as a “pretty big jump” from the previous two rounds, which focused on developing only individual components of crew transportation systems.
“Obviously, this next phase has to be a lot bigger than element designs,” Mango said on the Dec. 20 call.
In the third phase of the program, NASA hopes to get at least two competing crew transportation systems ready to enter production.
The article notes that "the vast majority" of CCDev funding in the current fiscal year will go to the current phase, not to the new phase beginning in February.