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By | July 23, 2007

      Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Snares $1.2 Billion NASA Pact For Ares

      NASA gave Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Inc. a $1.2 billion sole source contract for work on the upper stage of the Ares I and Ares V rockets that will propel the next generation U.S. spaceship, Orion.

      Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp. [UTX], alone met NASA requirements, and it will be able to extend its Ares work to future missions to the moon and beyond, according to the space agency.

      NASA announced that Rocketdyne will provide design, development, testing and evaluation of the J-2X engine that will power the upper stages of the Ares I and Ares V launch vehicles.

      The contract includes ground and test flight engines.

      This effort continues work that began on June 2 last year, under a preliminary letter contract with Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.

      NASA awarded the cost-plus-award fee contract to Rocketdyne on a sole-source basis, NASA determined that no other existing capability meets its architecture requirements and is able to be extended to future exploration missions to the moon and beyond.

      The contract performance period extends through Dec. 31, 2012. Engines for operational missions will be purchased through a separate contract.

      The J-2X is an evolved version of two historic predecessors: the powerful J-2 engine that propelled the Apollo-era Saturn IB and Saturn V rockets, and the J-2S, a simplified version of the J-2 that was developed and tested in the early 1970s.

      Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne designed and developed both the J-2 and the J-2S and has been responsible for producing, refurbishing and improving them. The J-2X engine will incorporate significant upgrades to meet higher performance and reliability requirements for the Ares vehicles.

      Ares I is an in-line, two-stage rocket that will transport the Orion crew exploration vehicle to low Earth orbit. The vehicle, which may not fly until 2015, replaces the NASA space shuttle fleet that retires in 2010.

      Meanwhile, in the intervening half-decade period, the United States — the nation that put men on the moon — won’t even be able to put one of its astronauts into low Earth orbit.

      Orion will accommodate as many as six astronauts. The first stage will consist of a single reusable solid propellant rocket booster similar to those used on the space shuttle, with an additional fifth segment.

      The second, or upper, stage will consist of a J-2X liquid oxygen- and liquid hydrogen-fueled main engine and a new upper stage fuel tank.

      Ares V will enable NASA to launch a variety of science and exploration payloads, as well as key components needed to go to the moon and later to Mars. Ares V, a heavy lift launch vehicle, will use five RS-68 liquid oxygen- and liquid hydrogen-fueled engines mounted below a larger version of the space shuttle external tank and two five-segment solid propellant rocket boosters for the first stage.

      The upper stage will use the same J-2X engine as the Ares I.

      This contract is managed by the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

      DuPont, NASA, Will Develop Kevlar Foam Insulation

      DuPont will work with NASA under a just-signed agreement to develop a new type of urethane foam insulation for spacecraft, with the insulation using DuPont Kevlar, the company announced.

      DuPont makes Kevlar thread that is used by other firms, with the thread woven into fabric and finally fashioned into armored vests and the like.

      NASA has experienced problems with the existing type of foam insulation applied to external fuel tanks on space shuttles.

      In 2003, a chunk of foam insulation ripped free from the tank and punched an undetected hole in the leading edge of a wing on the Space Shuttle Columbia orbiter vehicle. Later, when the orbiter began its return to Earth, fiery hot gases of reentry rushed into the wing and caused structural failure. The ship and crew were lost.

      Space shuttles will be retired in 2010, to be replaced by the Orion-Ares next-generation spacecraft that will be developed by the Constellation Program to begin flying in 2015.

      DuPont staffers will work with scientists at the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., to decide how to incorporate Kevlar fiber into foam cell walls, enhancing performance of thermal protection systems used in the Ares 1 crew launch vehicle.

      NASA already awarded the contract for the Orion crew exploration vehicle to Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT]. The contract for the Ares 1 lifter rocket, which will boost Orion into space, will be awarded later this year.

      Raytheon Gains $201 Million SM-2 Contract

      The Navy gave Raytheon Co. [RTN] a $201 million firm-fixed-price contract change to buy more Standard Missile-2 weapons.

      Raytheon will produce 190 missiles, 121 shipping containers, spares and associated data by September 2009.

      Aside from U.S. military users, which will receive about three-fourths of the order, the assets will go to Japan, Germany, Spain and Canada under the Foreign Military Sales program. The Naval Sea Systems Command handles the contract.

      Missile Defense Agency Gives ATK Contract For Motor Assemblies

      Alliant Technologies [ATK] received a $13.2 million Missile Defense Agency fixed price sole source contract for motor assemblies.

      ATK Launch Systems of Corrine, Utah, will provide five Castor IVB motor assemblies to support the targets and countermeasures program.

      Work will be performed in Magna, Utah by August 2010. Research and development funds will be used.

      Ball Aerospace Gains $127.9 Million NASA Contract

      NASA gave Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. [BLL] a cost-plus-award-fee imager contract worth $127.9 million if all options are exercised, the space agency announced.

      Ball Aerospace, of Boulder, Colo., will develop the Operational Land Imager instrument for the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM).

      The instrument will capture images in the visible and near-infrared spectra.

      Ball will design, develop, fabricate and integrate a flight-model Operational Land Imager. The company also will test, deliver and provide post-delivery support and five years of on-orbit support for the instrument. There are five one-year options for extension of basic on-orbit support.

      If all options are exercised, the potential period of performance would extend through 2021. The work will be performed at Ball Aerospace’s facility in Boulder.

      The Landsat Data Continuity Mission is the successor to Landsat 7.

      It is scheduled for launch no earlier than July 2011. Landsat satellites have captured multi-spectral images of the global land surface continuously since the launch of Landsat 1 in 1972. The Landsat data archive is the longest record of land surface as viewed from space.

      LDCM will detect and characterize changes on the global land surface at a scale where natural and man-made causes of change can be detected and differentiated.

      The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and the U.S. Geological Survey handle the contract.

      NASA will turn over management of the LDCM satellite to USGS after launch and on-orbit checkout.

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