Boeing will be the prime contractor in the development of the core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System, the largest rocket ever made. The $2.8 billion deal between Boeing and NASA was signed after the completion of the critical design review for the core stage—“the last major review before full production begins,” states a July 2 release. The completion of the critical design review “marks NASA’s first CDR on a deep-space human exploration launch vehicle since 1961, when the Saturn V rocket underwent a similar design review as the United States sought to land an astronaut on the moon.” The contract also calls for Boeing to be the lead contractor for avionics. “Our teams have dedicated themselves to ensuring that the SLS—the largest ever—will be built safely, affordably, and on time,” said Boeing SLS Vice President Virginia Barnes. Boeing also has “been tasked to study the SLS exploration upper stage, which will further expand mission range and payload capabilities,” states the release. The SLS is slated for initial test flight in 2017.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.