$50m contract for moon engine development

by Chris Bergin

NASA has awarded a contract worth $50 million to Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne for the development, testing and evaluation of the J-2X engine.

Meanwhile, NASA agency center responsibilities associated with the Constellation Program for robotic and human moon and Mars exploration – as the move from the Shuttle to a return to the moon picks up pace.

The engine will be used on the Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV) upper stage and the Earth departure stage of the Cargo Launch Vehicle (CaLV). The contract initiates conceptual design; procurement of long lead items; provide integration of the engine with the launch vehicles and support associated vehicle reviews.

The contract with the Californian company runs from June 2 through to November 30, surrounding the Systems Requirements Review scheduled for September and a Systems Design Review in October.

With the announcement of the responsibilities NASA centers will undertake as part of the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE), Scott Horowitz, associate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, noted the need to develop the centers for the switch in focus, ahead of the 2010 retirement date for the Space Shuttle fleet.

‘Our past experiences have provided the foundation to begin shaping the space exploration capabilities needed to create a sustained presence on the moon and on to Mars.

‘Our programs and projects are evolving as we develop the requirements to execute the Vision for Space Exploration. At the same time we are aligning the work that needs to be accomplished with the capabilities of our NASA centers.’

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In addition to primary work assignments each center will support moon and Mars surface systems conceptual designs. Centers also support additional Constellation program and project activities. Center assignments, according to the NASA release on Monday, are:

Ames Research Center, Moffett Field Calif., leads the crew exploration vehicle (CEV) Thermal Protection System Advanced Development Project. Ames is developing information systems to support the Constellation Program Safety, Reliability and Quality Assurance Office.

Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., leads CEV Abort Flight Test integration and operations including Abort Test Booster procurement and integration with the Flight Test Article.

Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, leads the CEV Service Module and Spacecraft Adapter integration, providing oversight and independent analysis of the prime contractor’s development of these segments. Glenn has lead responsibility for the design and development of several crew launch vehicle (CLV) upper stage systems.

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., provides co-leadership of the Constellation Program’s System Engineering and Integration navigation team and software and avionics team.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., leads a multi-center activity in support of the Mission Operations Project to plan systems engineering processes related to operations development and preparation. JPL provides co-leadership for the Constellation Program Office Systems Engineering and Integration Software and Avionics team.

Johnson Space Center, Houston, host the Constellation Program, the CEV Project and the Mission Operations Project. The Constellation Program manages and integrates the program and all projects. The CEV Project Office manages and integrates all CEV elements including prime contractor work. The Mission Operations Project manages and integrates all activities related to mission operations.

Kennedy Space Center, Fla., hosts the Ground Operations Project. The project manages all activities related to ground operations for the launch and landing sites, including ground processing, launch, and recovery systems.

Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., leads Launch Abort System integration supporting the CEV Project, providing oversight and independent analysis of the CEV prime contractor’s development of the system. Langley leads the Command Module Landing System Advanced Development Project for CEV. Langley provides vehicle integration and CEV test article module development for the CLV Advanced Development Flight Test-0.

Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., hosts the Constellation Launch Vehicle projects. The projects are responsible for project management of all CLV and cargo launch vehicle related activities. Marshall provides the CLV first stage design, and is responsible for launch vehicle demonstration testing including the Advanced Development Flight Test-0.

Stennis Space Center, Miss., manages and integrates rocket propulsion testing for the CLV Project. Stennis leads sea-level development, certification, and acceptance testing for the upper stage engine, sea-level development testing for the upper stage main propulsion test article, and sea-level acceptance testing for the flight upper stage assembly.

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