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Five Firms Get NASA Contracts to Study New Booster Designs

September 06, 1986|United Press International

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — The space agency has awarded contracts to look into possible second-generation shuttle boosters, and Lockheed Space Operations Co. has won a three-year extension for overall shuttle processing, officials said Friday.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said five aerospace firms have been awarded $500,000 contracts to study potential new designs for shuttle solid-fuel booster rockets. A booster failure led to the destruction of the shuttle Challenger on Jan. 28.

"All they'll do is give their concepts in the form of this study and then NASA will take a look at those, look to see how the (booster) redesign is proceeding and then at that time determine what the long-term strategy will be," spokesman Ed Medal said at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

The 120-day contracts were awarded to Aerojet Strategic Propulsion Co. of Sacramento; Atlantic Research Corp., Alexandria, Va.; United Technologies Chemical System Division, San Jose; Hercules Aerospace Co., Salt Lake City, and Morton Thiokol Inc. of Brigham City, Utah, the contractor for the current shuttle boosters.

The first three-year phase of the "shuttle processing contract," which Lockheed won in 1983, expires Sept. 30. Lockheed, which employs about 4,700 workers at the Kennedy Space Center, was paid about $1.1 billion for that contract.

During initial contract negotiations in 1983, Lockheed expected costs to run about $1.3 billion over the second three-year term. But NASA said Friday that that figure is no longer valid because of changes prompted by the Challenger disaster and "contract amendments" will be necessary.

Aerojet already has proposed a new booster incorporating a design that would eliminate the chance for a fuel segment joint failure like the one that doomed Challenger.

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