NASA has awarded Pratt & Whitney [UTX] Rocketdyne a contract worth about $622,000 to conduct systems analysis and trade studies for heavy-lift launch vehicle system concepts, propulsion technologies and affordability, the company said.

“As a provider of human-rated rocket engine technology with decades of proven success, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is honored to help NASA evaluate heavy-lift launch vehicle concepts and propulsion technologies for affordability and sustainability – aspects essential for future space exploration missions,” Jim Maser, president, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, said recently in a statement.

Under NASA’s Heavy Lift & Propulsion Technology Systems Analysis and Trade Study (HLPT), Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne will help NASA lay the groundwork for a flexible space transportation system that could deliver humans to asteroids, the moon, Mars and beyond.

The study will include an assessment of how key development decisions may affect launch systems and overall mission architectures; how innovative or non-traditional technologies may be applied to heavy-lift systems to improve affordability and sustainability; and how aspects of a heavy-lift system, to be developed by NASA, could be leveraged by the Department of Defense, commercial entities and international partners.