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September 2, 1997

Kyle Herring / Ed Campion
Johnson Space Center, Houston
Phone: 281/483-5111

Release: J97-25

NASA Awards Shuttle Avionics Upgrade Study Contracts

Space Shuttle avionics upgrade study contracts have been awarded to Space Systems Division of Boeing-North American, Lockheed-Martin Space Mission Systems and Services and McDonnell Douglas Corp. with the goal of solving obsolescence issues over the lifetime of the shuttle fleet of orbiters.

The goal of these study contracts, which run through December 1, 1997, is to make better use of commercial and military off-the-shelf (COTS/MOTS) hardware while combining it with modern industry architectures. The desired result is to minimize the implementation cost as well as the total program life cycle cost associated with hardware and software. The overall total value of the three study contracts is $2.6 million.

At present, COTS/MOTS hardware performance exceeds current shuttle hardware performance and will allow an upgrade to the system while solving many obsolescence issues.

Specific objectives of the study is to provide a conceptual design and then to benchmark current industry experience in avionics design, upgrade and retrofit. This will lead to a recommendation on final architecture. The recommendations will be supported with cost and implementation schedules that meet the manifest.

A business case will be based on program lifetimes to the years 2012 and 2030. Costs will include the flight hardware and software upgrades, as required, and the costs associated with ground facilities needed to support the proposed architectures.

Included in the study is a box by box replacement approach as well as a block approach – subsystem, core, or total. Also included is an industry design response to the rate of technology change over the shuttle program lifetime.

Avionics upgrades will aid the Space Shuttle Program in achieving the goals of flying safely while meeting the manifest, ensuring mission supportability and reducing costs.

Based on interim and final reports and presentations by the contractors, NASA plans to use the information and recommendations to draft a plan and schedule to support orbiter avionics upgrades in dealing with obsolescence while providing cost-effective incorporation of future advances in applicable avionics design.

The contract is managed by the Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX.


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