Billions at Stake in Bid for NASA Mission Control Contract

STS-114: Discovery Astronauts, Flight Controllers Simulate ISS Docking
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. (Image credit: NASA/JSC.)

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

NASAis on track to select a contractor Nov. 7 for the so-called FacilitiesDevelopment and Operations Contract (FDOC), a four-year, cost-plus contractwith two one-year options that, if exercised, would extend the agreement to2014.

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

FDOC wouldcombine all of the work Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Servicesof Gaithersburg, Md., currently performs under a nearly $700 million MissionSupport Operations Contract awarded in 2003 and about one-fifth of the workHouston-based United Space Alliance performs under its $6 billion Space ProgramOperations Contract, a 2006 replacement for the Space Flight OperationsContract that NASA awarded the Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture in order toput a single contractor in charge of spaceshuttle operations.

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

Houston-basedBoeing Space Exploration announced Oct. 8 that it had submitted its finalproposal revisions for FDOC in anticipation that NASA would make and announceits selection in early November.

LockheedMartin, meanwhile, announced in January that it was going after FDOC inpartnership with United Space Alliance. Boeing's team also includes UnitedSpace Alliance, which is responsible for the astronaut and flight controltraining systems work that would be rolled into FDOC. The day-to-day spaceshuttle support - including the mission planning, vehicle processing and launchand recovery operations that account for about half the spending on UnitedSpace Alliance's Space Program Operations Contract - would remain separate fromFDOC.

WinningFDOC would be the biggest boon for Boeing because, unlike Lockheed Martin andUnited Space Alliance, Boeing is not part of either of the legacy contractsFDOC would replace.

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Editor-in-Chief, SpaceNews

Brian Berger is the Editor-in-Chief of SpaceNews, a bi-weekly space industry news magazine, and He joined SpaceNews covering NASA in 1998 and was named Senior Staff Writer in 2004 before becoming Deputy Editor in 2008. Brian's reporting on NASA's 2003 Columbia space shuttle accident and received the Communications Award from the National Space Club Huntsville Chapter in 2019. Brian received a bachelor's degree in magazine production and editing from Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.