Friday, February 27, 2009

Oceaneering Signs Contract with NASA to Develop and Produce the Constellation Space Suit System

Oceaneering International has announced the signing of a letter contract with NASA to develop and produce the Constellation Space Suit System.

"Oceaneering," according to the Orlando Sentinel, "best known for its deep sea diving suits, was actually first selected last June for the project. NASA later terminated the contract, saying it would re-evaluate cost proposals from Oceaneering and its rival Hamilton Sundstrand.

"Hamilton Sundstrand protested the contract award to Oceaneering on a technicality. The space suit has been a signature contribution to NASA by Hamilton Sundstrand since the 1960s, and its initial loss was a hard blow to the company.

"In December last year, the two companies announced they would work together on the project to produce a new generation of space wear that will protect astronauts during voyages to the International Space Station and exploration of the moon's surface."

Oceaneering will start work immediately, and the letter contract will be finalized within six months. Oceaneering anticipates that the final contract will include a base period of approximately six years, and have an estimated value of over $180 million.

Oceaneering will design and build the Configuration 1 CSSS, which will be used during launch, abort and re-entry of Orion Block 1, and for contingency extravehicular activity. The contract also includes options to build additional Configuration 1 suits, provide ongoing CSSS-related operational and training support, and design and build the CSSS Configuration 2 suit, which will be used for activities on the lunar surface.

These options would extend the contract through 2020.

"The letter contract requires Oceaneering "to begin work on the design, development and production of the suits while NASA and the company negotiate the contract's final terms before August 29. The current award amount for the the letter contract is limited to $9.6 million. The original contract was worth $745 million and called for a total of 109 suits, 24 of which would have been lunar suits," according to the Sentinel.

According to a NASA press release, the spacesuit and support systems will “provide protection against the launch and landing environment and spacecraft cabin leaks.” It will also enable astronauts to walk in space, and as well as stroll for up to a week on the moon’s surface."

“The system also must be designed to support multiple spacewalks during potential six-month lunar outpost expeditions. Suits and support systems will be needed for as many as four astronauts on moon voyages and as many as six space station travelers,” NASA said.

The Oceaneering-led team includes United Space Alliance, LLC, David Clark Company Incorporated and its subsidiary Air-Lock, Incorporated, Harris Corporation, Cimarron Software Services, Inc., Paragon Space Development Corporation, Hamilton Sundstrand Corporation, and ILC Dover LP.

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