Potential contractors on NASA's heavy-lift Ares V moon rocket will have until Feb. 9 to submit bids on the first procurement package of the huge launch vehicle, under a request for proposals issued Jan. 5.
The RFP came as the 111th Congress prepared to hold its first session today, with President-elect Obama's inauguration still two weeks in the future. Neither of the newly elected branches of the federal government has made its position clear on whether to continue with the Bush administration's "Moon, Mars and Beyond" space program, which will require the Ares V to move humans beyond low-Earth orbit.
"This was always the plan, to put out this Ares V [RFP]," an agency spokesman said. "We are still working according to the direction we have been given. The new Congress and the new administration will give us their guidance, and we will follow it as we always do. In the meanwhile we'll continue to work on the direction we've been working on for the past several years."
The RFP sets out five work packages, with 18-month base periods and two one-year options. All are designed to advance NASA's internal concept for a Saturn V-class rocket able to lift a minimum of 413,888 pounds to an orbit of at least 149.6 miles (240.8-kilometers).
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