NASA Marshall Center seeks 2nd Generation RLV risk reduction proposals from industry
To help make space travel dramatically cheaper and safer than it is today, NASA is asking industry, academia and others to propose technologies, experiments and other risk reduction activities to be conducted over the next five years for the 2nd Generation Reusable Launch Vehicle Program. This is the next major step in developing the "Highway to Space."
"Technologies developed and tested under the 2nd Generation Reusable Launch Vehicle Engineering and Risk Reduction program will enable the start of full scale development of a reusable launch system in 2005 -- with flight operations anticipated in the 2010 timeframe," program manager Dan Dumbacher said.
The program -- managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and supported by NASA Centers across the country -- is aimed at developing a privately owned, commercially competitive reusable launch vehicle that will be 10 times cheaper and 100 times safer than 1st generation systems such as the Space Shuttle.
"Greater commercial development and exploration of space depend on making launch transportation safer and less expensive," Dumbacher said. "That's why this program is one of NASA's highest priorities."
NASA Research Announcement 8-30 asks U.S. industry, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations and federal agencies to submit proposals in 10 areas: system engineering and architecture definition, airframe, vehicle subsystems, internal vehicle health monitoring, operations, upper stages, propulsion, flight mechanics, flight demonstrations and NASA-unique requirements such as life support and crew escape systems.
"Proposals funded under this program will further define the technical requirements for achieving NASA's safety and payload goals, and will initiate the key ground and flight risk-reduction activities necessary to develop vehicles, ground support equipment and operations for a second generation reusable launch system," Dumbacher said. "We will mature second generation technologies, such as lightweight structures, long-life rocket engines, vehicle subsystems, computerized maintenance, thermal protection, ground operations and more."
NRA 8-30 was published earlier this month. More than 350 industry representatives recently attended a program briefing at the Marshall Center. Technical proposals are due November 27, with cost proposals due December 4. NASA expects to award multiple contracts totaling approximately $900 million next spring. The total number of contracts and the dollar figure for those will be determined later.
The Marshall Center is NASA's Lead Center for Space Transportation Systems Development. Marshall's efforts are supported by Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.; Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Miss.; Kennedy Space Center, Florida; Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif.; Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas; Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.; the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.; Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio; and the Air Force Research Laboratory, which includes research and development facilities at nine United States Air Force bases nationwide.