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By | August 6, 2007

      Boeing, Lockheed Submit Rival Proposals To Compete For TSAT

      As we reported last week, two rival teams, headed by The Boeing Co. [BA] and a Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT]/Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC] effort, each handed the Air Force a proposal to compete for a key segment in the Transformational Satellite Communications System Space Segment program, or TSAT.

      The ultimate TSAT prize — involving a five-satellites constellation — eventually will be worth some $12 billion to $18 billion. A Boeing official, in a later briefing for the media, estimated the program as worth $4.5 billion, or a total of $10 billion or so over the life of the program going out to 2020.

      Competitors Boeing and Lockheed Martin each heads a team of expert companies in vying for the upcoming contract to be awarded late this year, which Boeing explained covers the development and production phase of the TSAT program.

      That segment alone is expected to be worth billions.

      TSAT eventually will become the global communications network for the Air Force, providing seamless, protected communications for a wide range of defense and intelligence users, Lockheed Martin noted.

      Leaders in each firm touted the merits of its proposal, and the expertise of its team members.

      The Boeing team, called Team TSAT, marshals the strengths of Cisco Systems [CSCO], Hughes [HUGH], IBM [IBM], Harris Corp. [HRS], Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. [BLL], LGS Innovations, Raytheon Co. [RTN], General Dynamics Corp. [GD], L-3 Communications [LLL], BBN Technologies, EMS Technologies, Innovative Communications Engineering, and SAIC [SAI].

      In forming a rival team, Lockheed Martin, the largest defense contractor, adds to its clout by partnering with Northrop Grumman. The team also includes Juniper Networks of Sunnyvale, Calif., and ViaSat [VSAT] of Carlsbad, Calif.

      Howard Chambers, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems, highlighted “our 25-year heritage providing military satellite communications and our best-of-industry team, which has successfully delivered the most capable terrestrial and satellite communications network systems in service today.”

      Delivery of the Boeing proposal caps more than three years of work on the contract, according to Boeing.

      Boeing demonstrated TSAT advanced capabilities and technology maturity through successful laser communications and next generation processor router demonstrations, according to the company.

      Additional demonstrations across all key elements of the TSAT network culminated with the comprehensive, integrated, end-to-end demo at the space segment design review in April.

      If selected for the satellites program contract, Boeing will build TSAT at its satellite factory in El Segundo, Calif.

      But Lockheed Martin asserts that it has the edge.

      The Lockheed Martin-Northrop Grumman team proposal builds upon the team’s combined experience developing advanced military and commercial communications systems, Lockheed asserted.

      That experience includes the Milstar satellite communications network currently in operation, the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (EHF) system now in production, and the successful TSAT risk reduction and system definition activities conducted under contract to the Air Force.

      “Our team has worked closely with the Air Force for more than five years to mature the key TSAT technologies and define a program that is adaptive and executable,” said Joanne Maguire, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space Systems.

      If Lockheed Martin wins, it would be the prime contractor, with Northrop Grumman responsible for the communications payload, including laser and radio-frequency communications and on-board processing.

      The proposal development and production contract is to be awarded in November by the Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing located at the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles AFB, Calif.

      That contract will include the design, development, and fielding of up to five space vehicles plus one spare, along with the ground- based space vehicle command and control, and the high data-rate ground communications gateway.

      The original TSAT risk reduction and system definition funding was awarded by the Air Force in 2004 and recently culminated in successful space segment design reviews.

      TSAT represents the next step toward transitioning the Department of Defense wideband and protected communications satellite architecture into a single network comprising multiple satellite, ground, and user segment components.

      The system ultimately will replace the Milstar and Advanced EHF programs and provide the satellite-based Global Information Grid network extension to mobile warfighters, sensors, weapons, and command, control, and communications nodes located on unmanned aerial vehicles, piloted aircraft, on the ground, in the air, at sea or in space.

      Pratt Gains $975 Million NASA Space Shuttle Engine Contract Change

      NASA gave Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne a $975 million extension of a contract for maintaining main engines on orbiter vehicles in the space shuttle fleet, bringing the total contract to more than $2 billion.

      A unit of United Technologies Corp. [UTX], Pratt will perform the work through its office in Canoga Park, Calif.

      The existing contract, which began on April 1 last year, will cover maintenance on the engines until the space shuttle fleet is retired in 2010.

      The contract includes maintaining and refurbishing existing shuttle main engines at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

      The $975 million contract extension brings the total value of the cost-plus-award/incentive fee contract to slightly more than $2.05 billion.

      Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne supports the Shuttle Propulsion Office at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.; the Space Shuttle Program Office at Johnson Space Center in Houston; and the Space Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

      Each space shuttle is powered by three of the sophisticated engines, the world’s only reusable rocket engines. During launch, each of the 7,750-pound engines burns liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, fed from the shuttle’s external tank.

      Each engine generates about 400,000 pounds of thrust, which works with the shuttle’s twin solid rocket boosters to power the spacecraft to orbit.

      That stupendous power is needed because the shuttle is used to transport enormously heavy structural components into orbit, which then are cobbled together to form the International Space Station (ISS). The ISS is a bit more than half finished.

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