NASA has selected 13 companies for negotiations leading to potential contract awards to conduct systems analysis and trade studies for evaluating heavy-lift launch vehicle system concepts, propulsion technologies, and affordability. The selected companies are:
- Aerojet General Corp., Rancho Cordova, Calif.
- Analytical Mechanics Associates, Huntsville, Ala.
- Andrews Space, Tukwila, Wash.
- Alliant Techsystems, Huntsville, Ala.
- The Boeing Co., Huntsville, Ala.
- Lockheed Martin Corp., Huntsville, Ala.
- Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Huntsville, Ala.
- Orbital Sciences Corp., Chandler, Ariz.
- Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Canoga Park, Calif.
- Science Applications International Corp., Huntsville, Ala.
- Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Hawthorne, Calif.
- United Launch Alliance, Centennial, Colo.
- United Space Alliance, Huntsville, Ala.
The awards total approximately $7.5 million with a maximum individual contract award of $625,000. Each company will provide a final report to help lay the groundwork for the transportation system that could launch humans to multiple destinations, including asteroids, Lagrange points, the moon and Mars.
“These trade studies will provide a look at innovative launch vehicle concepts, propulsion technologies, and processes that should make human exploration missions more affordable,” said Doug Cooke, associate administrator of NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “If we are to travel beyond low-Earth orbit, industry’s collaboration is essential to reduce the cost associated with our future exploration goals and approaches and make the heavy-lift vehicle affordable to build and fly.”
The studies will include heritage systems from shuttle and Ares, as well as alternative architectures and identify propulsion technology gaps including main propulsion elements, propellant tanks and rocket health management systems. The reports will include assessments of various heavy-lift launch vehicle and in-space vehicle that use different propulsion combinations. The companies will examine how these combinations can be employed to meet multiple mission objectives.
NASA will use the recommendations to evaluate heavy-lift launch vehicle concepts and propulsion technologies for affordability that will be required to enable robust and sustainable future exploration missions.