NASA next week will brief the aerospace industry on its plans to develop a new super-sized rocket for missions beyond Earth orbit, and a new business opportunity listing sheds light on the agency's acquisition strategy.
Five-segment solid rocket boosters for initial test flights will be developed under an existing ATK contract being carried over from the cancelled Project Constellation moon program. NASA will solicit "risk reduction" ideas from industry later this year for advanced boosters -- either solid- or liquid-fueled. A contract competition will be held before advanced booster development begins in the 2013-2014 timeframe.
Boeing's existing contracts for Constellation upper stage and avionics work will be used to develop an integrated core stage, upper stage and the instrument unit of the Space Launch System through initial operating capability in 2021.
Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne will continue work on NASA's existing fleet of shuttle main engines as well as the J2-X that will power the upper stage of the new heavy-lift launch vehicle.
NASA will develop in-house the designs for the rocket's payload fairing as well as spacecraft and payload adapters. A manufacturing contract will be competed in the 2013 timeframe. Industry and academia will have opportunities to work on advanced systems development starting next year. NASA will lead systems engineering and integration efforts through a critical design review in 2014.
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The Industry Day briefing will be held next Thursday at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.