Over a 10-month period during 2013 and early 2014, development of the Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) mission  proceeded through Phase B, Mission Definition. An external attached payload on the International Space Station (ISS), NICER is scheduled to launch in 2016 for an 18-month baseline mission. Its prime scientific focus is an in-depth investigation of neutron stars—objects that compress up to two Solar masses into a volume the size of a city—accomplished through observations in 0.2–12 keV X-rays, the electromagnetic band into which the stars radiate significant fractions of their thermal, magnetic, and rotational energy stores. Additionally, NICER enables the Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology (SEXTANT) demonstration of spacecraft navigation using pulsars as beacons. During Phase B, substantive refinements were made to the mission-level requirements, concept of operations, and payload and instrument design. Fabrication and testing of engineering-model components improved the fidelity of the anticipated scientific performance of NICER’s X-ray Timing Instrument (XTI), as well as of the payload’s pointing system, which enables tracking of science targets from the ISS platform. We briefly summarize advances in the mission’s formulation that, together with strong programmatic performance in project management, culminated in NICER’s confirmation by NASA into Phase C, Design and Development, in March 2014.