Lockheed wins $3.4B NASA prize

In one of the largest information technology-related procurements in civilian agency history, NASA last week awarded Lockheed Martin Space Operations Co. a $3.4 billion contract to manage the space agency's entire space operation infrastructure.

The Consolidated Space Operations Contract (CSOC) calls for Lockheed to manage and provide space operations services to meet the requirements of NASA's space flight and science programs. The 10-year contract shifts management responsibility from five NASA centers to the contractor. Lockheed was competing for the contract against Boeing North American Inc.'s Space Systems Division.

Ken Asbury, vice president of business development for Lockheed Martin Space Mission Systems and Services Inc., a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Space Operations, noted that a major part of the company's work will be reducing the number of brick-and-mortar mission control centers, replacing them with "virtual mission control centers" based on Internet communications.

Lockheed officials have described the NASA ground station of the future as "a laptop computer and a World Wide Web browser." Technology exists today "that will allow us to do things in a Web-based commercial product way," Asbury said.

Daniel Goldin, NASA's administrator, projected that the contract will save the agency $1.4 billion over 10 years. The basic five-year contract is worth $1.9 billion with options totaling $1.5 billion, including a five-year extension.

NASA officials were not available for comment.

As part of CSOC, Lockheed will take over the management of 17 existing contracts. Over the next 10 years, Lockheed expects to cut in half the current work force that supports these contracts.

Services include data acquisition, data transmission, data processing, and storage and mission control center operations. CSOC covers the Space Shuttle and Space Station programs and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Deep Space Network Communications Complex.

Lockheed also will explore the possibility of altering the way spacecraft are built and will examine ways to make them smarter and less reliant on human ground controllers, Asbury said (see related story, Page 6).

As part of its proposal for CSOC, Lockheed successfully demonstrated a working model of NASA's future space operations using standard networking hardware based on Asynchronous Transfer Mode and Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, the protocol at the heart of the modern Internet.

Lockheed's plans for CSOC include the development of a massive virtual private network protected by a firewall that will be designed based on the company's own intranet.

In addition, data archiving and retrieval also will be a target for cost-cutting by moving toward a more commercial method. For example, Lockheed officials have suggested that NASA's scientific data could be stored next to commercial credit card data at Citibank.

Each of Lockheed's team members brings a critical component to planned architecture, with GTE Government Systems Corp. designing the Internet paradigm and providing security, Wang Global providing network management, and MCI and Siemens AG providing telecommunications equipment. Allied Signal Technical Services Corp., an incumbent on one of the contracts that will be rolled into CSOC, and Computer Sciences Corp. round out Lockheed's team.

Boeing, which declined to comment, had a team that included Microsoft Corp., Hughes Space and Communications Corp., Science Applications International Corp. and Litton/PRC Inc.

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