NASA, Contractors Prep for Commercial Space Missions; Jim Crocker Comments

Space Launch SystemNASA and industry partners are working to prepare and assess spacecraft and components that are scheduled for deep space missions in 2014 and 2017.

The Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT)-built Orion unmanned spacecraft is scheduled to launch in the fall and the Space Launch System is set for its first flight in 2017, Aerojet Rocketdyne said Thursday.

Jim Crocker, a Lockheed vice president and general manager, said Orion’s first flight test is intended to reduce risks of transporting humans into space.

NASA also plans to open an SLS vertical assembly center at its New Orleans-based Michoud assembly facility.

Boeing (NYSE: BA) is set to test and weld the SLS VAC components in the summer, while ATK‘s (NYSE: ATK) SLS booster program is scheduled to meet the 2017 launch date.

ATK will perform ground test and component design reviews in 2014 and Aerojet Rocketdyne will fire-test the SLS RS-25 core stage engine in July.

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