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NASA announces $767 million in SLI contract awards
Posted: Thu, May 17, 2001, 7:08 PM ET (2308 GMT)
SLI technology illus. (NASA) NASA announced Thursday that it awarded contracts worth up to $767 million to 22 companies and universities as the first major step in the agency's Space Launch Initiative (SLI). The awards, with a base period of 10 months and options for one or more years, will allow the contractors to engage in a series of projects ranging from propulsion and other technology development to system and architecture studies. Many of the contracts went to major aerospace companies, including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Orbital, although NASA officials said they exceeded their goal to give 12% of the contract awards to small companies. Among the more unusual awards was a contract with Kistler Aerospace than includes a $125 million option for flight opportunities to test technologies developed as part of the SLI effort if Kistler's reusable K-1 launch vehicle becomes operational in the next few years. The awards are the first major contracts for SLI, a $4.8-billion, five-year effort to develop technologies for safer, more reliable, more affordable launch vehicles. The goal of the program is to eventually develop two or more competing options for a next-generation reusable launch vehicle by mid-decade. NASA plans additional contract solicitations later this year and next year to fill in some of the technology gaps left by the current awards.
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