Three teams win Orbital Space Plane contracts

Three contractor teams have been awarded $45 million each as part of a continuing competition to provide crew rescue and transfer capabilities to the International Space Station, NASA announced April 4.

The companies given contract extensions to continue supporting NASA's Orbital Space Plane were Lockheed Martin Corp., Bethesda, Md.; Boeing Co., Chicago; and a team including Orbital Sciences Corp., Dulles, Va., and Northrop Grumman Corp., Los Angeles.

The teams will design potential candidates for the system, including the Orbital Space Plane vehicle or vehicles, ground operations and all supporting technologies needed to conduct a mission to and from the space station. The program will provide the capability for crew rescue by 2010 and the capability for crews to transfer to and from the space station by 2012.

These awards are part of a contract modification to a Cycle 1 Space Launch Initiative solicitation originally awarded in May 2001. The modification extends the existing contracts through July 2004.

The companies will work to develop system specifications, including systems analysis, trade studies and concept feasibility in preparation for NASA's Orbital Space Plane program's systems requirements review.

The review, slated for October 2003, will evaluate the concept design based on the Level 1 requirements ? guidelines that lay out the foundation and top-level needs of the system. The review also will set Level 2 requirements that will further narrow the scope of the system design, including requirements for crew safety, cost and interfacing with launch vehicles and the space station.

Once the review is complete, the contractors will begin to work on the next phase, which includes trade studies, development of a conceptual design that meets Level 2 requirements and supporting analysis leading to NASA's Systems Design Review, scheduled for April 2004.

A full-scale development decision by NASA is expected in the fall of 2004.

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