This contract award comes almost two years after the Air Force awarded two development contracts for the EELV. The dual contracts were awarded to Lockheed Martin Astronautics and the Boeing Company's Expendable Launch Systems on Dec. 20, 1996.
The Air Force envisions that the EELV will eventually replace the existing Delta, Atlas and Titan space launch vehicles for use in launching a wide range of government and commercial payloads. First launch of the EELV is planned for 2001.
"This EELV award will help enable Lockheed Martin to provide our Air Force and other customers best value products well into the 21st century," said Thomas A. Corcoran, president and chief operating officer of the Space & Strategic Missiles Sector.
"These new EELV rockets will enable us to reduce assembly time and improve operational capability while cutting costs," said Dr. Raymond S. Colladay, president of Lockheed Martin Astronautics. "As a result, we will enhance our ability to ensure Mission Success(R) for our international and domestic customers."
Lockheed Martin's EELV concept calls for a family of vehicles that will be used to launch commercial and government payloads to a variety of orbits or place them on interplanetary trajectories. The vehicles feature a number of common elements including the 12.5-foot (3.8-meter) diameter, 89.3-foot (27.15-meter) tall, structurally stable Common Core Booster(TM), a common propulsion system featuring the RD-180 engine, common element upper stages, standard commercial payload adapters, standard commercial avionics as well as simplified launch pads and streamlined launch operations. Lockheed Martin's EELV will be launched from both Cape Canaveral Air Station, Fla., and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
The Medium Launch Vehicle (MLV) configuration of Lockheed Martin's EELV will be capable of placing 18,900 pounds (8,573 kg) in low Earth orbit or 11,600 pounds (5,262 kg) in geostationary transfer orbit. For the largest payloads, three Common Core Boosters(TM) will be strapped together to form the Heavy Lift Vehicle (HLV). The HLV will place 42,000 pounds (19,050 kg) in low Earth orbit or more than 14,500 pounds (6,577 kg) in geosynchronous orbit, 22,300 miles (35,890 km) above Earth.
Lockheed Martin's EELV will use the highly reliable Centaur upper stage. Centaur continues to be the United States' only state-of-the-art upper stage in production that uses cryogenic liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellants. Centaur has a proven record of more than 133 flights.
Lockheed Martin has established an international teaming relationship with the RD AMROSS, LLC joint venture that was formed by the Russian company NPO Energomash and Pratt & Whitney, an operating unit of United Technologies Corporation, to co-produce the RD-180 rocket engines under exclusive contract for Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed Martin also uses the RD-180 to power its Atlas III boosters. The company expects to launch several Atlas III vehicles before the first EELV is launched, thus increasing confidence in the performance of the EELV. First launch of an Atlas III is scheduled for mid-1999.
Lockheed Martin Astronautics, in Denver, Colo., has responsibility for program management, systems design, development and integration, booster final assembly, mission integration and systems test. The company's Harlingen, Texas, Operations builds payload fairings, interstage adapters and aft thrust structures. Astronautics' Launch Operations organization at Cape Canaveral Air Station, Fla., and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., provides launch site activation and launch operations. Other members of Lockheed Martin's EELV team, their locations and responsibilities include:
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