Boeing announced Jan. 27 that it has received a six-month, $75 million contract extension from the Air Force to continue its risk-reduction work on the transformational satellite communications system. The company said the extension took effort on Jan. 7 and brings its total TSAT contract funding to $739 million. Speaking to the Daily Report yesterday, Steve Tatum, spokesman for Lockheed Martin, Boeing’s rival in the TSAT competition, confirmed that his company received a similar $75 million contract extension, also bringing the total value of its TSAT activities to $739 million. The Air Force actually awarded these contracts quietly on Dec. 24. The service is working to finalize the final version of the TSAT solicitation for release later this year so that it is in a position to award a multi-billion dollar development contract to one of the two teams sometime in 2010. The previous request for proposal was withdrawn after the Office of the Secretary of Defense mandated a program restructure in December.
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.