Lockheed, Boeing, ATK, GenCorp prepare for deep space exploration

7 January 2014

The four prime contractors of NASA´s space launch system (SLS) and Orion met recently at an industry-team meeting to discuss progress to date and ensure the teams are on track for the 2014 and 2017 launches.

As Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and NASA prepare for the launch this fall of an uncrewed Orion spacecraft, the SLS industry team is also gearing up for an important year on the path to deep space exploration, including producing flight test hardware and bringing the SLS VAC online at NASA´s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

Boeing (NYSE: BA) will begin acceptance testing and confidence welding on the SLS VAC this summer. The VAC welds together sections of the core stage, such as barrels, rings and domes, for a complete cryogenic stage. Boeing is responsible for the design, development, manufacture, test and assembly of the core stage and avionics for the SLS, and remains within budget and ahead of schedule.

Less than two years into the program, Boeing is tracking toward conducting core stage Critical Design Review (CDR) up to five months ahead of schedule with active structures at production capacity and component hardware and software in qualification build and test phases. In partnership with NASA, Boeing continues delivering on-target technical and safety performance and development progress ahead of schedule and within budget.

ATK´s (NYSE: ATK) SLS booster program is on schedule to meet the 2017 launch date. In 2014, ATK will conduct a full-scale ground test as well as component design reviews. The company has effectively incorporated lean manufacturing in consolidation of processes, procedures and facilities. ATK has reduced the booster manufacturing time by 46 percent and is building the rocket with one-fourth the work force that was required for the space shuttle.

Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, will conduct its first SLS RS-25 core stage engine hot fire test in July of this year, three months ahead of schedule. This adaptation testing series of the RS-25 will demonstrate the engine can perform under SLS mission conditions. Additionally, the RS-25 engine controller recently completed a CDR and integrated testing is underway. The company continues to make significant progress toward SLS affordability by consolidating its manufacturing footprint by 60 percent, demonstrating advanced low-cost additive manufacturing technologies, and securing a sustainable supply chain using common key suppliers.

To learn more about the SLS and Orion teams, visit: Aerojet Rocketdyne at www.rocket.com; ATK at www.atk.com; Boeing at www.boeing.com; and Lockheed Martin at www.lockheedmartin.com/us/products/orion.html.

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