NASA Awards Laser Air Monitoring System and Spacecraft Avionics Contracts for Orion

An Orion spacecraft approaches the lunar Gateway. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded Dynetics Inc. of Huntsville, Alabama, a contract to produce a Laser Air Monitoring System (LAMS) for the agency’s Orion spacecraft beginning with the Artemis III mission.

NASA has also selected Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to provide development and operations support for the avionics software suite that will guide the agency’s next generation of human rated spacecraft on missions beyond low-Earth orbit.

The LAMS contract with Dynetics is valued at $17.8 million for production of the Artemis III unit, as well as a qualification unit, design modifications, and long-lead procurement items in support of the Artemis IV and V missions. It is an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with firm fixed price orders. The contract has a maximum potential value of $90 million, should additional flight units or components be needed for the Orion program or other NASA programs and projects. The period of performance extends through 2025.

Derived from an air monitoring system flown on the Mars Curiosity rover, LAMS is a new air monitoring technology that will measure oxygen, carbon dioxide, water vapor, temperature, and pressure within Orion during Artemis missions to the Moon. The system is accurate enough to detect unsafe levels of these elements in cabin air composition, giving crews time to respond.

LAMS is well-suited to deep space exploration due to its low mass, volume, and power consumption, and ability to operate in space without re-calibration. In September 2020, Dynetics delivered the first version of a LAMS unit to NASA for use in the Artemis II Orion spacecraft, the first Artemis mission that will carry humans.

The $49 million Advanced Guidance, Navigation and Control (GN&C) and Avionics Technology Development and Analysis III contract with Draper Laboratory is a single-award indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. The five-year performance period begins Tuesday, June 1, and extends through May 31, 2026.

The contract will support the work of the Engineering Directorate’s Aeroscience and Flight Mechanics Division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The contract provides support services that include a full range of guidance, navigation and control tools, integrated avionics, and autonomous flight operations systems. These will be used to develop simulation tools and flight software, perform flight-mode-specific analysis, define system architecture, execute test and verification activities, and provide sustaining engineering for the International Space Station and Orion spacecraft. The contract may support other NASA centers’ needs for advanced guidance products and services in the future.

The majority of the work will take place at contractor facilities in Texas, near Johnson. Services also may be required at other NASA centers, contractor or subcontractor locations, or vendor facilities as requirements warrant.

The Orion spacecraft will carry astronauts to space on Artemis missions, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during transit to the lunar vicinity, and provide safe return to Earth from deep space. Orion is a vital part of NASA’s deep space exploration plans, along with the Space Launch System rocket, Gateway, and human landing system.

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