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NASA Awards Test Operations Contract At Stennis Space Center

John C. Stennis Space Center

John C. Stennis Space Center

WASHINGTON — NASA has awarded the Test Operations Contract at Stennis Space Center, near Bay St. Louis, Miss., to Lockheed Martin Services, Inc. of Houston.

The Test Operations Contract is a performance based, cost-plus-award-fee contract, valued at $95.7 million with a five-year period of performance consisting of a base period of 30 months and one option period of 30 months.

As the test operations contractor, Lockheed Martin will be responsible for providing test operations, core operations and maintenance activities to support test projects at Stennis.

The John C. Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi is one of ten NASA field centers in the United States. It is home to America’s largest rocket engine test complex where every space shuttle main engine is tested and future engines and stages will be tested for returning astronauts to the moon with possible journeys beyond. Because of its important role in engine testing for four decades, Stennis is NASA’s program manager for rocket propulsion testing with total responsibility for conducting and/or managing all NASA propulsion test programs.

Currently, Stennis tests all space shuttle main engines. These high-performance, liquid-fueled engines provide most of the total impulse needed during the shuttle’s eight and one-half-minute-flight to orbit. All shuttle main engines must pass a series of test firings (video, below right) at Stennis prior to being installed in the back of the orbiter (video, below left).

In 2010, the Space Shuttle Program will end and a new fleet of launch vehicles will power America’s next-generation spacecraft, Orion, which will carry astronauts back to the moon with possible journeys beyond the lunar surface. Stennis is testing core components for the J-2X rocket engine that will power the upper stage of the new crew launch vehicle, Ares I, and the Earth departure stage of Ares V, the new cargo launch vehicle. The J-2X engine is derived from Apollo’s Saturn V rockets that were tested at Stennis more than 40 years ago. A cluster of six RS-68B rocket engines will power the core stage of the Ares V, intended to carry large payloads to the moon. The engines are upgraded versions of those currently used in the Delta IV, developed in the 1990s by the U.S. Air Force for its Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program and commercial launch applications. All RS-68 engines are assembled and test-fired at Stennis.

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Posted by on Nov 16 2010. Filed under Space. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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