NASA News Release c98-w
December 8, 1998
NASA SELECTS FUTURE-X FLIGHT DEMONSTRATOR AND EXPERIMENTS
NASA has selected The Boeing Company, Downey, CA, for negotiations leading to
possible award of a four-year cooperative agreement to develop the first in a continuous
series of advanced technology flight demonstrators called "Future-X." Total
value of the cooperative agreement, including NASA and Boeing contributions, is estimated
at $150 million, with an approximate 50/50 sharing arrangement. Work under the cooperative
agreement will begin immediately depending on successful negotiations. Pending results
of these negotiations, alternative designs are available for NASA selection.
In addition, three companies and three NASA Centers were selected for seven Future-X
flight experiments with a total estimated value of $24 million. The Future-X effort
will be managed by the Space Transportation Programs Office at NASA's Marshall Space
Flight Center, Huntsville, AL.
Future-X vehicles and flight experiments will demonstrate technologies that improve
performance and reduce development, production and operating costs of future Earth-to-orbit
and in-space transportation systems. Technologies tested through Future-X will help
industry and NASA develop and build future generations of space launch vehicles that
are more advanced and cheaper than previous vehicles. Under the cooperative agreement
Boeing and NASA would advance 29 separate space transportation technologies through
development and flight demonstrations of a modular orbital flight testbed called
the Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV). The ATV would be the first-ever experimental
vehicle to be flown in both orbital and reentry environments.
"The cutting-edge technologies to be demonstrated through Future-X are aimed
at increasing U.S. competitiveness in the worldwide commercial space transportation
market and decreasing future government costs for space access," said Frederick
Bachtel, manager of the Space Transportation Programs Office at the Marshall Center.
"I believe we're turning the key that opens the door to affordable space transportation."
NASA is pursuing technologies that will benefit both military and commercial
aerospace. Specifically, the Air Force has identified the critical technology and
operations demonstrations that support their reusability requirements. Future-X accomplishes
many of these demonstrations. "NASA has worked closely with the U.S. Air Force
in seeking high-payoff technologies that maximize U.S. opportunities to reduce the
cost of space transportation," said Bachtel.
The three companies selected to provide flight experiments were Southwest Research
Institute, San Antonio, TX; Draper Laboratory, Cambridge, MA; and AeroAstro, Herndon,
VA. The three NASA Centers selected to provide Future-X flight experiments were Ames
Research Center, Moffett Field, CA; Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH; and Marshall
Space Flight Center. Ames was selected to provide two experiments.
Selected industry-led experiments include: a half-effect thruster system flight
demonstration of new onboard in-space propulsion technologies by Southwestern Research,
estimated at $2.5 million; an experiment to demonstrate an onboard intelligence planning
system for autonomous abort landings by Draper, estimated at $740,000; and an experiment
to demonstrate technologies that will significantly reduce the access-to-space costs
of small payloads by AeroAstro, estimated at $800,000.
Selected NASA-led experiments with substantial industry involvement include:
Ames-led experiments to demonstrate advanced technologies of an integrated-vehicle
health-management system, and to demonstrate ultra-high temperature ceramics for
reusable, sharp hypersonic leading edges, estimated at $4.5 million and $4.2 million
respectively; a Lewis-led experiment to demonstrate propulsion technologies that
will reduce the weight and size of advanced cryogenic upper stages, estimated at
$4.3 million; and a Marshall-led experiment to demonstrate advanced propellantless
in-space propulsion technologies through an electrodynamic tether which works as
a thruster, estimated at $6.6 million.
The companies and NASA Centers were selected to provide the flight demonstrator
and flight experiments from a total of 50 proposals submitted in response to NASA
Research Announcement 8-22.