New Spy Satellite System Planned, To Cost Billions: Report

The Department of Defense (DOD) is expected to procure spy satellites that likely will be based on commercial-sat architecture, in a program costing $2 billion to $4 billion, the Associated Press reported.

Called BASIC, the new system likely would be based on an existing commercial satellite imagery system, or a derivative, according to the report.

Commercial systems have gathered some arresting satellite photography of vital military value, such as a Google Earth photo of two new Chinese Jin Class submarines in port.

With responses to a request for information in hand, DOD may seek proposals next spring.

Northrop Gains $176 Million Air Force ICBM Propulsion Contract

The Air Force recently gave Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC] a 23-month, $176 million contract to continue full-rate production of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Propulsion Replacement Program (PRP), the company announced last week.

The program will replace aging solid-rocket motor sets for stages 1, 2, and 3 in the Minuteman III missile arsenal with re-manufactured motors to maintain alert-readiness status through 2030.

This award represents the seventh and final full-rate production option under the ten-year, cost plus award fee/incentive fee PRP contract. The PRP contract began in 1999 and is valued at $1.9 billion. Under this latest option, Northrop Grumman will deliver 56 motor sets, for a total of 601. A motor set is comprised of a stage 1, stage 2, stage 3 and interstage ordnance components.

Teammate Alliant Techsystems [ATK] is producing all three stages at full rate and expects to deliver all production motors by August 2009. Remanufacturing the motors includes replacing the aging propellant in the motors and replacing obsolete or environmentally unsafe materials and components.

Minuteman stage 1 motors are manufactured by ATK at its facility in Promontory, Utah, and stage 2 and 3 motors are manufactured at the ATK Bacchus facility in Magna, Utah, with components provided by the ATK Promontory and Clearfield, Utah, facilities.

PRP is one of eight large modification programs currently managed by Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, prime integration contractor for the program.

In this role, Northrop Grumman supports its customer in modernizing and maintaining the reliability, safety and security of the nation’s land-based Minuteman III weapon system.

Northrop, its teammates and subcontractors provide system engineering, program management, integration, process discipline, domain expertise, subsystem expertise and full- spectrum ICBM industrial capabilities.

Northrop, Raytheon Each Gains $160 Million GPS Control Segment Contract

The Air Force gave Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC] and Raytheon Co. [RTN] each a $160 million, 18-month contract toward the Global Positioning System [GPS] control segment, the company announced.

This sets the stage for Northrop and Raytheon to duke it out for a later major $1 billion program contract award.

That system involved in the latest contract awards would be included in the current GPS Block II and all future GPS satellites for user effects-based operations.

The system will include anti-jam capabilities, improved system security, accuracy and reliability and will be based on a modern service-oriented architecture to integrate government and industry open system standards, the company stated.

Michael D. Keebaugh, president of Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems (IIS), said it deployed more than 100 unique control systems for military and commercial satellites as well as 75 GPS systems for the Department of Defense, civil, commercial and national markets including navigation, transportation, surveying and rescue operations.

Northrop noted that the OCX modernization effort will provide mission enterprise control support for the existing GPS Block II and future Block III satellites. The GPS ground control segment includes satellite command and control, mission planning, constellation management, monitoring stations and ground antennas.

Under the 18-month cost plus award fee contract, Northrop Grumman Team OCX will provide architecture design; communications and network engineering; information assurance and security; modeling and simulation; network management; software development; support, maintenance and implementation; systems engineering and integration; and test and evaluation.

If the Northrop team wins the contract to proceed into system development, the program could potentially be valued at more than $1 billion, Northrop noted.

The Northrop team includes Harris Corp., Melbourne, Fla.; Integral Systems, Inc., Lanham, Md.; General Dynamics Corp. [GD] unit Advanced Information Systems, Arlington, Va.; Infinity Systems Engineering, Colorado Springs, Colo.; NAVSYS Corp., Colorado Springs; and Applied Minds, Glendale, Calif.

Under an Air Force risk reduction effort, Northrop Grumman has since 2005 supported the study of state-of-the-art capabilities in satellite control segment software and hardware architecture and developed innovative architectures to meet OCX performance requirements, the company noted.

NASA Awards Tybrin Corp. Contract Worth Up To $149 Million

The NASA Dryden Flight Research Center gave Tybrin Corp. of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., a contract worth up to $149 million for engineering and technical services.

The award-term contract covers a four-year base period with six one-year award-term periods and could have a total value of $149 million if all award term periods are exercised.

The agreement takes effect Feb. 1 under the indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract, and includes cost-plus-award-fee and cost-no-fee line items.

The engineering and technical services contract provides support to the Dryden research program and project management, center management operations and the chief engineer’s office.

It also supports the strategic communications office, which includes public affairs, education, technology transfer and related outreach functions. Tybrin will support the center’s flight research projects, internal research and development, and perform various technical, engineering and general administrative support functions.

Spacehab Proposes To Provide Commercial Space Cargo Vehicle To NASA

Spacehab Inc. [SPAB] gave NASA a proposal to provide a commercial space cargo vehicle, the Spacehab Arctus, that would be lofted into space by big-name lifters, the firm announced.

The proposal was submitted in responding to the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Phase 1 Demonstrations Request for Proposal (RFP).

Spacehab proposed a cargo craft based on its Advanced Research and Conventional Technology Utilization Spacecraft (ARCTUS) design.

The company is working with its aerospace affiliates Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT], United Launch Alliance (a joint venture of Lockheed and The Boeing Co. [BA]), Cimarron and Odyssey Space Research.

They are developing a commercial cargo transportation vehicle to serve NASA needs for cargo services to the International Space Station (ISS) as well as other commercial needs, including Spacehab microgravity processing activities.

NASA released the COTS Phase 1 RFP in October, seeking one or more funded Space Act Agreements (SAAs) with private industry.

The effort calls for the development and demonstration of the vehicles, systems, and operations needed to resupply, return cargo from, and transport crew to and from low Earth orbit after 2010, helping fill the gap between the space shuttle retirement in 2010, and the first manned flight of the Orion-Ares next-generation U.S. space vehicle in 2015.

The Spacehab proposal draws heavily from existing components and infrastructure providing a reliable, low-cost and low-risk solution, according to the company.

The Arctus design uses flight proven systems, hardware and assets to the greatest extent possible. This approach ensures availability, reduces flight risks, and minimizes cost while meeting all NASA requirements, according to Spacehab.

Spacecraft structural and avionics components will be obtained from Lockheed and are derived from the Centaur and XSS-11 programs. Launch services will be procured through United Launch Alliance utilizing the successful Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELV) Atlas V or Delta IV.

Cimarron will provide mission control center development and integration while Odyssey Space Research will perform trajectory analysis and provide associated integration services.

Spacehab currently is working to develop Arctus under an unfunded deal with NASA. The COTS I award, expected early next year, will provide NASA investment to the winning solution(s) through a funded agreement. NASA has announced that up to $174 million is available under this pending COTS I award.