Boeing gets space station extension

The Boeing Co. will continue to supply software components for the International Space Station under a $650 million sole-source NASA contract, announced Oct. 1.

The award calls for the aerospace giant to deliver and integrate the remaining components and software during the contract's 24-month period, which expires on Sept. 30, 2010.

The contract also includes funding for the management of a majority of ISS subsystems and for specialized ground-based engineering work in areas such as materials, electrical parts, environments and electromagnetic effects, Boeing officials said.

The International Space Station is a test bed for building and maintaining large structures in space as well as a laboratory for conducting science and technology research. Experiments on the station will help devise the structures and technologies needed for living on the moon and for Mars exploration, they added.

The Space Shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to return to the space station in November for the first of six remaining assembly missions.

The delivery of more than 400 items for the Endeavour mission will prepare the ISS for its future six-member crew and for the final major U.S. and Boeing-built element, the Starboard 6 Truss Segment, officials said. The power module and the structural truss, which acts like a junction from which external utilities are routed into the station, will be delivered to the space station in 2009. They will ensure that it has enough power to accommodate NASA's planned science activities and support the additional crew members.

As NASA's prime contractor on the International Space Station, Boeing has had engineering responsibility for all 18 major U.S.-built elements as well as for integrating the elements built by the space agency's international partners, such as Japan's Kibo Laboratory and Italy's Harmony utility node.

Boeing, of Chicago, ranks No. 2 on Washington Technology's 2008 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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