NASA, ESA Expand Cooperation
By Amy Svitak , Mark Carreau
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
NASA has no plans to alter its $6.6 billion agreement with Lockheed Martin, Orion/MPCV prime contractor, says Mark Geyer, NASA's Orion project manager. Plans for a late-2014 unpiloted test flight of the Orion atop a Delta IV heavy will not be affected by the ESA agreement. That test will feature a high-speed reentry of the capsule to test the heating shielding and verify other systems prior to the capsule's planned critical design review.
ESA decided a sixth ATV would cost more than the €455 million the agency's member states owe to cover Europe's share of ISS common operating costs through 2020. Instead, NASA accepted the ATV-derived service module proposal, leaving ATV's supply role to new U.S. commercial resuppliers, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp. The propellant that the ATV furnished will not be needed, as past operations show the station's propulsion needs can be handled by future Russian Progress flights, said Mike Suffredini, NASA's ISS program manager.