NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Laboratory (JPL) has awarded a contract to a Boeing-led team to
study deep space propulsion systems for the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO)
mission, scheduled to launch no earlier than 2011.

JIMO would be the first space science mission in NASA’s Project
Prometheus, a part of the space agency’s initiative to develop space nuclear
power and electric propulsion technologies to revolutionize space exploration.

The contract, valued at $6 million with a $5 million option for further
research, is one of three awarded and runs through fall 2003. The Boeing-led
team will study technology options for the reactor, power conversion, electric
propulsion and other subsystems of the JIMO spacecraft meant to explore the
Jovian moons Ganymede, Callisto and Europa. NASA plans to select an industry
prime contractor in fall 2004 to work with JPL to develop, launch and operate
the spacecraft.

JIMO would show nuclear reactors can be operated safely and reliably in
space to provide electrical power needed for propulsion and scientific
exploration. The JIMO reactor would provide more than 100 times more usable
onboard power than has been available to previous science probes. This opens
new possibilities for exploration, including more flexible flight schedules
less dependent on planetary positions and longer loiter times around multiple
destinations on the same mission.

Nuclear-powered spacecraft would allow for the collection and return of an
enormous amount of imagery and scientific data and could support scientific
instruments such as ice-penetrating radar, electromagnetically launched deep
penetrators and laser spectroscopes.

“JIMO will be an ambitious project and Boeing is ready to develop new ways
to travel and explore the solar system,” said Joe Mills, Boeing vice president
and program manager for JIMO. “I’m excited about the exploration of Jupiter’s
icy moons and unlocking their secrets.”

Boeing Phantom Works, the company’s advanced R&D unit, took a best-of-
industry approach to build its JIMO team, which includes the company’s NASA
Systems, Boeing Satellite Systems, Boeing Electronic Dynamic Devices Inc. and
Rocketdyne Propulsion and Power. Among the companies teamed with Boeing are
BWX Technologies Inc., and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.

BWX Technologies Inc., a division of McDermott Inc., will evaluate reactor
options for the JIMO spacecraft. For the past five decades, BWXT has supplied
nuclear components to the Navy with an unprecedented operational and safety
record. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. brings its deep space experience
from the Discovery and Mars Exploration Programs to the team. In addition,
Ball has a long heritage of providing scientific instruments to NASA.

Boeing brings large-scale systems and payload integration experience from
a wide range of military and commercial aircraft, spacecraft and satellite
programs, including some of NASA’s most complex systems, such as the
International Space Station. Boeing also offers experience in space electric
propulsion from NASA’s Deep Space 1 probe and the 702 series satellites.

In another part of the NASA Prometheus program, Boeing is also currently
working on a next generation radioisotope power source under a recently-
awarded U.S. Department of Energy contract. This generator is designed for
use both in space and on the surface of planetary bodies such as Mars.

Scientists believe Jupiter’s icy moons have briny oceans beneath their
crusts. These oceans are high-priority destinations for NASA’s strategic
mission to understand life in the universe because they could have the key
ingredients for supporting microbial life. These ingredients are liquid
water, chemical nutrients and sources of energy. JIMO’s mission — orbiting
and intensively studying multiple moons — could not be accomplished with
conventional propulsion.

The Boeing Company, with headquarters in Chicago, is the leading aerospace
company in the world and the United States’ leading exporter. The company has
an extensive global reach, including customers in 145 countries, employees in
more than 70 countries and operations in 38 U.S. states as well as Canada and