Aerospace Giants combine in race to build Orbital Space Plane

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Tuesday October 14, 2003

Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have announced a joint arrangement to compete for the development of NASA's Orbital Space Plane (OSP) - the next generation space vehicle designed to provide safe, affordable crew rescue and transfer for the International Space Station. The two companies are aiming to gain the prime contract for the full-scale development of the OSP, which is due to be finalised by NASA in August 2004 toward a 2008 launch date.

NASA has completed its Systems Requirements Review to evaluate the concept design and has specified that the new vehicle must provide a crew rescue capability for the International Space Station by 2008 and two-way crew transfer by 2012.

Lockheed Martin will lead the new team as the system prime contractor while Northrop Grumman will serve as principal subcontractor.

"The diverse talents, technical resources and aerospace systems experience of our two companies will help NASA reduce the schedule and cost risks of the accelerated OSP program," said Michael Coats, vice president, Lockheed Martin's Advanced Space Transportation.

Progress in demonstrating the technologies required for the OSP project has already been made. The X-37 approach and landing test vehicle has completed a series of ground tests at Boeing's Huntington Beach facility and in 2001, an unpiloted 85 percent scale version of the X-37 - the X-40A - proved the capability of an autonomous flight control and landing system in flight tests at NASA'a Dryden Flight Research Center.

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