NASA has selected a group of contractors including ATK (NYSE: ATK) and Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) to develop engineering demonstrations and risk reduction concepts for an advanced booster on the Space Launch System.
According to the agency, the total value of the contracts is $137.3 million.
ATK will develop a solid-fueled booster and address risks involved in the design and development of solid propellant boosters, while Northrop will demonstrate design and manufacturing techniques for composite propellant tanks.
NASA will conduct a separate, open solicitation in 2015 for design, development, testing and evaluation work on the SLS advanced booster.
Contract funding is covered under a research announcement risk mitigation effort and acquisition initiative and these new projects will take place over a 30-month period.
When complete, the 77-ton SLS configuration will use two 5-segment solid rocket boosters similar to the boosters that helped power the space shuttle into orbit.
According to the agency, the evolved 143-ton SLS vehicle will require an advanced booster with more thrust than any existing U.S. liquid- or solid-fueled boosters.
NASA has scheduled the first SLS test flight for 2017 as part of its goal to acquire a new system for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit, succeeding the space shuttle.
Through the agency’s commercial crew program, Boeing (NYSE: BA) will continue developing its commercial crew transportation spacecraft with $460 million in funding.