NASA has awarded three contracts for risk reduction on potential new boosters for the space launch system (SLS), the vehicle meant to power a new wave of space exploration.
Dynetics, which is co-operating with Rocketdyne to build a modernised version of the powerful F-1, will "demonstrate the use of modern manufacturing techniques" on portions of the rocket engine, including the power pack and cryogenics tanks.
ATK intends to bid an advanced solid rocket, and has won a contract to reduce risk on a variety of components, including the exhaust nozzles, avionics and propellant.
Northrop Grumman has won a contract to demonstrate manufacturing techniques of a new fuel tank.
While the companies have won risk reduction contracts, the award does not compel them to place a bid for the new engines, a contest scheduled to begin in 2015, nor does it exclude other potential bidders. The boosters are not scheduled to fly until 2021.