Billions at Stake in Bid for NASA Mission Control Contract
Flight Director Paul Hill (foreground) and astronaut Stephen N. Frick, spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM), monitor communications in the Shuttle Flight Control Room (WFCR) in Johnson Space Center’s (JSC) Mission Control Center (MCC) with the STS-114 crewmembers during a fully-integrated simulation on October 13.
Credit: NASA/JSC.

WASHINGTON - Boeing and Lockheed Martin are going head-to-head for a multibillion-dollar NASA contract that will put one of the companies in charge of keeping Johnson Space Center's Mission Control Center and related training facilities up and running for the next four to six years.

NASA is on track to select a contractor Nov. 7 for the so-called Facilities Development and Operations Contract (FDOC), a four-year, cost-plus contract with two one-year options that, if exercised, would extend the agreement to 2014.

NASA put FDOC out for competition this past spring with the aim of saving money by merging all or part of two existing contracts into a single contract.

FDOC would combine all of the work Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Services of Gaithersburg, Md., currently performs under a nearly $700 million Mission Support Operations Contract awarded in 2003 and about one-fifth of the work Houston-based United Space Alliance performs under its $6 billion Space Program Operations Contract, a 2006 replacement for the Space Flight Operations Contract that NASA awarded the Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture in order to put a single contractor in charge of space shuttle operations.

NASA generally does not comment on contracts after proposals have been submitted. But industry sources following the FDOC competition said NASA is hoping to spend less than $3 billion on FDOC services during the next six years, a savings of at least $1 billion over what the agency was projected to spend during that same time period if it simply extended its existing contracts.

Houston-based Boeing Space Exploration announced Oct. 8 that it had submitted its final proposal revisions for FDOC in anticipation that NASA would make and announce its selection in early November.

Lockheed Martin, meanwhile, announced in January that it was going after FDOC in partnership with United Space Alliance. Boeing's team also includes United Space Alliance, which is responsible for the astronaut and flight control training systems work that would be rolled into FDOC. The day-to-day space shuttle support - including the mission planning, vehicle processing and launch and recovery operations that account for about half the spending on United Space Alliance's Space Program Operations Contract - would remain separate from FDOC.

Winning FDOC would be the biggest boon for Boeing because, unlike Lockheed Martin and United Space Alliance, Boeing is not part of either of the legacy contracts FDOC would replace.