Sep 29, 2011, 02:22 ET
HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Sept. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA leaders met Thursday to discuss acquisition plans for the agency's new heavy-lift rocket with hundreds of representatives of aerospace industry companies, small businesses and independent entrepreneurs. The rocket, known as the Space Launch System (SLS), will take astronauts farther into space than ever before, create high-quality jobs here at home, and provide the cornerstone for America's future human space exploration efforts.
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The Industry Day event, hosted by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., provided industry representatives with an overview of the SLS Program and defined its near-term business requirements, including details of NASA's acquisition strategy for procurement of critical hardware, systems and vehicle elements. Marshall is leading design and development of the Space Launch System for NASA.
"This is a milestone moment for NASA, for our industry partners and for our economy," NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver told the group. "We at NASA have worked hard the past year to analyze and select our Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and space launch systems designs."
Garver said, "The SLS heavy-lift rocket will take American astronauts farther into space than any human has ever gone before. It will expand our knowledge of the universe, reap benefits to improve life on Earth, inspire millions around the world and create good jobs right here at home."
"We're proud to be where we are today," said Marshall Center Director Robert Lightfoot. "We've done the due diligence necessary to get to this point -- thousands of configuration trades and studies -- and now it's time for us to start working on the hardware."
The event was held during Marshall's quarterly Small Business Alliance Meeting at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration, part of Huntsville's U.S. Space & Rocket Center.
NASA announced plans for the development of the SLS in September. It will carry NASA's Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, cargo, equipment and science experiments to space -- providing a safe, affordable and sustainable means of reaching the moon, asteroids and other destinations in the solar system.
The planned vehicle will be the most powerful ever developed, evolving to a 130-metric-ton rocket built around a core stage, which will share common design, supplier base, avionics and advanced manufacturing techniques with the upper stage. It will use a liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propulsion system, relying on the space shuttle's RS-25 engine for the core stage and the J-2X engine for the upper stage. Dual, five-segment solid rocket boosters mounted to the sides of the tank will provide additional power. The design of the dual boosters on later flights will be determined through competition based on cost, performance and interface requirements.
The Space Launch System builds on the legacies of the Saturn rocket, space shuttle and Ares development efforts. It will take advantage of proven hardware and cutting-edge tooling and manufacturing technologies to significantly reduce development and operations costs. This strategy will help NASA maintain the development pace necessary to launch the first, full-scale test flight by late 2017.
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