NASA Glenn are hoping they will win the contract to build the Service Module element of the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) – the replacement vehicle for the Space Shuttle, which will retire in 2010.
A deal worth $2-3 billion is on the table for the winner of the contract, with Glenn estimating it will secure their short-to-medium term future – and create 300-500 new jobs at the center.
The CEV will come into service between 2012 and 2014, beginning with missions to the ISS (International Space Station), before a return to the moon begins in earnest around 2018. Glenn needs the contract to remain healthy, it was intimated by former director Julian Earls.
‘Could Glenn be healthy without a major program like service module?’ said Earls to the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. ‘I believe the answer to that is no.’
Griffin has previously said he wants to involve all 10 NASA centres in the future direction of the agency, most notably along the path of the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE), which was laid out by way of infrastructure roadmaping by the recently released Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS).
At present, ATK Thiokol are working on the first stage of what will start life as the Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV), Lockheed Martin have made no secret of their ambition to win the second stage contract, with the Service Module and Crew Capsule the other remaining parts to the vehicle that may debut in around four to six years for trips to the ISS.
The service module element is the power pack behind the CEV, coming into its own following its ride to orbit on top of the first stage solid rocket booster, and second stage ‘external tank’ hybrid.
With a similar appearance to that of the service module on the Apollo craft, the CEV service module will be larger, with new technologies, including the potential for gimballing reaction control systems (RCS), as proposed by Tennessee Tech University recently.
As far as NASA Glenn’s chances of winning the contract, the decisions on the CEV elements won’t be made until later this year by the downselect committee, although Marty Kress, a former deputy director at Glenn, believes they are at least in the running.
‘I do think it’s on the table,’ he said.
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