They must have had this ready to go, and were just waiting to find out if they were going to get the money they needed for Commercial Crew:
NASA intends to solicit proposals from all interested U.S. industry participants to further advance commercial crew space transportation system concepts and mature the design and development of elements of the system such as launch vehicles and spacecraft. NASA plans to use its ”other transactions” authority within the National Aeronautics and Space Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2451 et seq, to invest in multiple, competitively awarded, funded agreements. The funding available for awards will depend on the fiscal year 2011 appropriations; however, an anticipated funding level is expected to be provided in the Announcement. The agreements are expected to result in significant maturation of commercial crew systems with consideration given to NASA’s draft human certification requirements and standards or industry equivalent to those requirements and standards. This activity is referred to as Commercial Crew Development Round 2, or CCDev 2.
Finally, some real progress, assuming that the new Congress doesn’t try to kill it. I think that Boeing has even surprised themselves on how fast they can move, and cost effectively, when operating on this kind of contract. They’ve already developed an astonishing amount of hardware for the CST, relative to past programs.
[Update a while later]
Jeff Foust has more.