For release: 07/12/02
Release #: 02-173
NASA awards contracts to investigate commercial services to supply International Space Station
NASA's Alternate Access to Station project part of NASA's Space Launch Initiative awarded four contracts on July 12 to expand options beyond today's capability for delivering supplies to the International Space Station. These awards, with a combined value of $10.8 million, will cover 12 months of work. This work will result in cargo vehicle concepts for rendezvous and docking with the Space Station, and the technology requirements needed to accomplish an automated approach by NASA and industry.
NASA’s Alternate Access to Station project part of NASA’s Space Launch Initiative awarded four contracts today to expand options beyond today’s capability for delivering supplies to the International Space Station.
These awards, with a combined value of $10.8 million, will cover 12 months of work. This work will result in cargo vehicle concepts for rendezvous and docking with the Space Station, and the technology requirements needed to accomplish an automated approach by NASA and industry.
“These companies will get us to the point where the next steps will be flight testing, and operations and safety validation of technologies and proposed vehicles,” said Chris Crumbly, manager of the Alternate Access to Station project at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
Automated rendezvous and capture/docking has been identified as a key technology for the Space Launch Initiative. One of NASA's leading technology research and development programs, the Space Launch Initiative aims to dramatically increase safety and reliability, while reducing the cost of a second generation reusable launch system.
The objective is to provide additional cargo service capability to increase the Space Station’s operational flexibility.
Companies chosen to participate in this effort include Andrews Space and Technology, Seattle, Wash., $2.9 million; Lockheed Martin, Denver, Colo., $3 million; The Boeing Company, Huntsville, Ala., $2.6 million; and Constellation Services International, Inc., Woodland Hills, Calif., $2.3 million.
Contractors will begin work on the project by the end of July.
“The system must be able to operate safely around Space Station and ensure automatic dockings are achieved with minimal input from mission control,” said Crumbly. Automated rendezvous and docking/capture operations are critical for several other NASA missions, including satellite servicing, interplanetary sample return, and in the future, large-scale space construction.
By enabling new access avenues, NASA is stimulating a commercial access industry. “Our job is to demonstrate the capability,” said Crumbly. “Once demonstrated, industry may provide services, which the Space Station program can then purchase.” Purchasing services from commercial industry enables NASA to concentrate on its research and science mission objectives, while promoting continuous risk reduction and improvements through industry competition. NASA hopes to demonstrate commercial servicing as soon as practicable.
Current alternate access concepts include expendable rockets and cargo vehicles. However, evolution of the service could result in a fully reusable system.
All NASA field centers and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory are actively participating in the Space Launch Initiative and are vital to its success. The Marshall Center implements the Space Launch Initiative for NASA's Office of Aerospace Technology in Washington, D.C.
Additional information on NASA's Space Launch Initiative is available on the Internet at:
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