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NASA, Aerospace Business Leaders Talk Specifics of Space Launch System - Next U.S. Heavy Lift Spacecraft - at Industry Day Event
October 5, 2011

Lori Garver and Robert Lightfoot speak about the Space Launch System program at Industry Day. NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and Marshall Center Director Robert Lightfoot speak at Industry Day. (NASA/MSFC)
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NASA leaders met with hundreds of representatives from aerospace industry companies, small businesses and independent entrepreneurs Sept. 29, to share Space Launch System program acquisition plans. These companies represent many of the innovators who will help develop, build, test and fly the Space Launch System, the cornerstone of America's deep-space human exploration program.

The Industry Day event, hosted by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., provided industry representatives with an overview of the Space Launch System program and defined its near-term business requirements, including details of NASA's acquisition strategy for procurement of critical hardware, systems and vehicle elements.

"This is a milestone moment for NASA, for our industry partners and for our economy," said NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, welcoming those in attendance. "We have been working hard at NASA over the past year to analyze and select our multipurpose crew vehicle and space launch systems designs."

"The SLS heavy-lift rocket will take American astronauts further into space than any human has ever gone before," she added. "It will expand our knowledge of the universe, reap benefits to improve life on Earth, inspire millions around the world and create good jobs right here at home." "We're proud to be where we are today," said Marshall Center Director Robert Lightfoot. "We've done the due diligence necessary to get to this point - thousands of configuration trades and studies - and now it's time for us to start working on the hardware." The Marshall Center is leading design and development of the Space Launch System for NASA.

"Today's activities were an important step forward toward reaching America's space exploration goals," said Space Launch System Program Manager, Todd May. "With a clearer picture of what NASA needs from its aerospace industry partners, companies can now move ahead with their work of helping us develop and build this rocket."

The event, held in tandem with the Marshall center's quarterly Small Business Alliance Meeting, was held at the Davidson Center for Space Exploration, part of Huntsville's storied U.S. Space & Rocket Center - a museum and tour facility providing visitors with an historic look back at more than a half-century of aviation and aerospace innovations. The Small Business Alliance Meeting creates networking opportunities for small businesses and helps them do business with NASA.

More About the Space Launch System

NASA announced the development of the Space Launch System in September. The advanced, heavy-lift launch vehicle will carry NASA's Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, cargo, equipment and science experiments to space - providing a safe, affordable and sustainable means of reaching the moon, asteroids and other destinations in the solar system. Additionally, the vehicle will serve as a backup for commercial and international partner transportation services to the International Space Station.

The planned vehicle will be the most powerful ever developed, evolving to a 130-metric-ton rocket built around a core stage which will share common design, supplier base, avionics and advanced manufacturing techniques with the upper stage. It will use a liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propulsion system, relying on the space shuttle's RS-25 engine for the core stage and the J-2X engine for the upper stage. Dual, five-segment solid rocket boosters mounted to the sides of the tank will provide added power. The design of the dual boosters on later flights will be determined through competition based on cost, performance and interface requirements.

The Space Launch System builds on the legacy of the Saturn rocket, the space shuttle and the Ares development effort - taking advantage of proven hardware and cutting-edge tooling and manufacturing technologies to significantly reduce development and operations costs. This strategy will help NASA maintain the development pace necessary to launch the first, full-scale test flight by late 2017.

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