Thursday, June 29, 2017

Raytheon Continues Support for Astronaut Training at NBL

NASA tests crew exit strategy for Orion spacecraft in October 2015. Photo Credit: NASA / Radislav Sinyak

NASA has awarded Raytheon Company a new contract to continue mission support at the agency’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) in Houston, Texas. The new $154-million contract allows the company to provide technical and engineering support at the facility for the next seven years.

NBL is an astronaut training facility and neutral buoyancy pool operated by NASA and located at the Sonny Carter Training Facility, near NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The massive 6.2 million gallon instrumented pool is the place where astronauts learn to work in space and train on a submerged full-sized mockup of the International Space Station (ISS).

“Raytheon’s focus for the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory contract is enabling high-consequence training for astronauts as a foundation for success in all human spaceflight missions. Spacewalks require immense amounts of training and rehearsals on the ground. Safe, efficient and effective operations at the NBL are critical for the success of the International Space Station,” David Appel, Senior Director of Mission Systems, Mission Support and Modernization at Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services, told SpaceFlight Insider.

Raytheon is providing mission support at NBL since 2003. This support is key for extending the lifecycle of the massive underwater mockups of the ISS. The company also helps NASA to lower operating costs of the facility by leasing it to external customers. 

The new contract is critical to the future of American human spaceflight program as it encompasses preparations for launching astronauts from U.S. soil again.

“Raytheon-backed training will also continue to be paramount as Orion and the Commercial Crew Program launch humans further into space,” Appel said.

The contract also highlights Raytheon’s important contribution to spaceflight from the very beginning. The company has been involved in space activities since the spaceflight since the start of the human spaceflight program, being part of crucial manned missions. For instance, Raytheon’s guidance computers steered some of the first space capsules, including Apollo 11.

“Raytheon technology beamed back the first images from the lunar surface and delivered Neil Armstrong’s famous transmission, ‘One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.’ In the decades since, Raytheon has become a leader in dozens of space-related specialties, from helping launch satellites to space system cybersecurity. Today, we provide end-to-end support to NASA and the U.S. military,” Appel noted.

Headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, Raytheon Company is a major U.S. defense contractor and industrial corporation with 63,000 employees. The company provides electronics, mission systems integration, C5I products and services, sensing, effects, and mission support for customers in more than 80 countries.

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