NetJets has won a five-year, fixed-price contract from NASA's Space Operations Mission Directorate to replace three government-owned Gulfstream GII and GIII business jets.

The aircraft are used to carry Space Shuttle crew families to and from the Kennedy Space Center for four to six launches a year, International Space Station crews to Russia's launch site in Kazakhstan twice a year, and initial response teams to launch abort sites around the world if there were to be a Shuttle launch anomaly. Maximum value of the contract is set at $25 million, although NASA is guaranteeing only 25h a year.

The space agency decided to contract out the work after performing an internal cost-benefit analysis that showed using NetJets services could save $2.3 million a year, assuming 300h of flight time a year. NASA says it plans to measure actual cost savings after one year to verify the estimates. Meanwhile, the three Gulfstreams - a GIII based at the Johnson Space Center and two GIIs, one at Kennedy and another at the Marshall Space Flight Center - will be put into storage.

Source: Flight International