Boeing, Lockheed Martin win next generation NASA spacecraft work

NASA awarded Boeing Co. $301 million and Lockheed Martin Corp. $53 million to develop flight demonstrator technologies, the agency announced Nov. 20.

The contracts were awarded under the Cycle 2 Space Launch Initiative, a means to develop technologies for the next-generation space transportation vehicle, called the Orbital Space Plane.

Under its contract, Boeing of Chicago will continue development of the X-37 flight demonstrator, a test plane to show technologies for space vehicle orbital and re-entry environments.

The work, done by the company's Phantom Works unit, will stage a series of approach and landing tests. Advanced guidance, navigation and control, thermal protection systems and high-temperature structures will be tested.

Lockheed Martin of Bethesda, Md., will develop a reusable launch pad abort demonstrator. The contract includes a full-scale reusable system to test crew escape technologies and procedures. Using fully instrumented mannequins, the company will test escape propulsion systems, parachutes, vehicle orientation, landing techniques and external body configurations.

"Many tests can be conducted using ground facilities, but there are key technologies that must be tested in flight," said Dennis Smith, NASA's manager for the Space Launch Initiative program.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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