The $201.5 million dollars that The
Boeing Company was awarded by NASA through the Space Launch Initiative (SLI)
last week includes more than $65 million to the Rocketdyne Propulsion &
Power unit of the company. The SLI contract calls for Rocketdyne to develop
propulsion systems for second-generation reusable launch vehicles.

NASA’s Space Launch Initiative is designed to reduce the risk associated
with developing a second generation reusable launch vehicle by defining,
developing and testing technologies needed to meet safety, reliability and
cost goals. New propulsion technology developed through SLI will be central
to achieving the goals of a reusable launch vehicle that is 100 times safer,
ten times more reliable, and one-tenth the current cost of delivering
payloads to orbit.

The Rocketdyne propulsion activity focuses on design of and technology
development for a fuel-rich staged combustion engine (FRSC). The Rocketdyne
FRSC prototype will be a hydrogen-fueled highly reusable engine in a class
similar to the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) developed by Rocketdyne.
Under this contract, Rocketdyne will also advance the design maturity of a
highly reusable oxidizer-rich staged combustion (ORSC) hydrocarbon engine.
In addition, the Rocketdyne SLI award enables research and development
toward a hydrogen peroxide engine for upper stage propulsion.

To meet the challenge of next-generation propulsion, Rocketdyne will build
on the experience gained from the development of the SSME, as well as the
RS-68 engine for the Boeing Delta IV expendable launch vehicle and the
Linear Aerospike engine developed for NASA’s X-33 reusable launch vehicle.

“This contract represents a great opportunity to capitalize on lessons
learned and best practices from SSME, Aerospike and RS-68,” said John Vilja,
program manager for the main propulsion activity.

The contract calls for initial design work to be completed over a ten-month
period beginning in June. At the end of ten months, NASA will authorize a
follow-on 14-month option based on successful performance in the prior
phase. NASA is planning on testing of a prototype engine to take place by
2005, with first flight of the full-scale development vehicle occurring in
2010. The SLI work will be performed at Rocketdyne facilities in Canoga
Park, Calif. Initially, about 80 employees will support the SLI work,
increasing to about 120 by 2002.