NASA’s Space Launch Initiative is seeking its second round of
proposals on technologies, experiments and other risk-reduction
activities from industry and academia – taking another step
toward making space launch safer and more affordable in the future.

Technical proposals are due March 27.

NASA expects to award multiple contracts totaling approximately $500
million in September.

The Space Launch Initiative (SLI), also known as the Second Generation
Reusable Launch Vehicle Program, is a NASA technology development
program designed to substantially improve safety and reliability of
space travel, while reducing costs. The program – managed by
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and supported
by NASA Centers across the country- focuses on improving access
to space for America’s 21st century missions by increasing
safety and reliability and reducing costs associated with a new
generation of fully reusable launch vehicles.

“In spite of the advances in aerospace technology, human space
flight remains a challenging endeavor,” said Dennis Smith of the
Marshall Center, manager of the Space Launch Initiative.”We are
asking industry and universities to develop concepts and leap-ahead
technologies needed to pioneer safer, lower cost space flight. They
have a clean sheet of paper and the competition is wide-open.”

This second round of requests targets research on propulsion, flight
demonstrations and NASA-unique projects such as life support and crew
safety, and integrated ground testing and simulations for a
second-generation reusable launch vehicle. Space Launch Initiative
management has identified these areas as critical to the program and
in need of additional research.

The Space Launch Initiative’s first round of contract awards
– valued at $791 million – went to 22 prime contractors.
Those studies marked the first step of a process that will lead to
development of a common set of alternative technologies that NASA will
make available to all U.S. companies. These cutting-edge developments
will be used for future government and commercial launch systems and
space transportation operations.

The Space Launch Initiative awarded an additional $94.6 million in

“Proposals funded under this program will further define the technical
requirements for achieving NASA’s safety and mission goals”
Smith said. “The proposals will initiate essential activities
necessary to develop vehicles, ground support equipment and operations
for a second generation reusable launch system.”

The original research announcement was issued in October 2000. NASA
Research Announcement 8-30 Cycle I asked U.S. industry, educational
institutions, nonprofit organizations and federal agencies to submit
proposals in 10 areas: system engineering and architecture definition,
airframe, vehicle subsystems, internal vehicle health monitoring,
operations, upper stages, propulsion, flight mechanics, flight
demonstrations and NASA-unique requirements such as life support and
crew escape systems.

The technology selected for development is based on extensive studies
to assess the technological needs for a second-generation reusable
launch vehicle. These technologies have been prioritized and the
funding is commensurate with those priorities.

The planned budget for the Space Launch Initiative totals $4.8 billion
through fiscal year 2006.

The Space Launch Initiative’s goal is to enable full-scale
development of a reusable launch system in 2006 ‘ with flight
operations anticipated in the 2012 timeframe.

The Marshall Center is NASA’s Lead Center for Space Transportation
Systems Development. Marshall’s efforts are supported by Ames Research
Center in Moffett Field, Calif.; Stennis Space Center in Bay St.
Louis, Miss.; Kennedy Space Center, Florida; Dryden Flight Research
Center in Edwards, Calif.; Johnson Space Center in Houston; Langley
Research Center in Hampton, Va.; the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
Pasadena, Calif.; Glenn Research Center in Cleveland; and the Air
Force Research Laboratory, which includes research and development
facilities at nine United States Air Force bases nationwide.

Additional information on NASA’s Space Launch Initiative and
technical proposals is available on the internet at: