Orion spaceship prime contractor Lockheed Martin, its Ares I launcher's first stage provider Alliant Techsystems (ATK) and engine developer Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne have teamed to compete to supply the crew vehicle booster's upper stage.
ATK - already responsible for the Ares I first stage hardware including the interface and separation with the upper stage - is leading the team. The upper stage production contract request for proposals is expected in February next year and should be placed in the third quarter.
For the upper stage bid Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is responsible for the liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen J-2x engine and related upper stage interfaces. Lockheed is providing the avionics for the April 2009 Ares I-1 test flight and has the capability to produce the upper stage cryogenic tanks.
On 12 September NASA published its $2 million Ares I upper stage severance system contract synopsis. With a draft request for proposal (RFP) expected around 19 September and an industry briefing on 21 September the final RFP should be published by NASA Glenn Research Center in mid-October.
Blog: Read Rob Coppinger's blog about Boeing's good and bad news in the last week.