JSC Annual Report FY97







Research and

Aerospace and the
Business Communities

JSC and the



  Aerospace and the
Business Communities

NASA's Ellington Field facility
The Space Operations Management Plan and Johnson Space Center's role as Lead Center for Space Operations gathered momentum during the fiscal year. The plan, an effort to provide higher quality service at lower cost, calls for NASA to emphasize research and development while outsourcing many operational elements.

Assumption of the Lead Center for Space Operations role has increased the property for which the Johnson Space Center is responsible by almost $6 billion. Much of the increase reflects the new responsibility for NASA's fleet of Space Shuttle orbiters.

FY 1997 saw enactment of a major outsourcing contract under which a private organization, United Space Alliance, will manage a major portion of the nation's space flight program.

Commercialization of space is another element of the Johnson Space Center's interaction with the private sector. It was the focus of the first Inspection Day in November 1996, designed to showcase space hardware and technology to potential users outside the traditional aerospace sector.

Space Flight Operations Contract

In a groundbreaking agreement, NASA and United Space Alliance signed the Space Flight Operations Contract, naming the company the single prime contractor for space flight operations. United Space Alliance is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The contract, effective at the beginning of FY 1997, calls for the company to perform all Shuttle processing, ground operations, mission operations and training.

Both NASA and United Space Alliance officials believe the contract will result in more efficient and more cost effective operation of the space flight program.

The base period of the performance-based contract (placing emphasis on results rather than provision of services) is six years, with two two-year options. The six-year contract was valued at about $7 billion. The agreement gives the United Space Alliance responsibility and accountability for Space Shuttle and preparatory work for Space Station operations.

The contract brings under a single company activities that had been included in 12 separate contracts. The second phase of the contract will bring work from 16 additional contracts under the company's management. They include contracts for the Space Shuttle's main engines, external tanks and the solid rocket boosters.

Mission Control Center activities

Consolidated Space Operations Contract

The Johnson Space Center in May called for proposals from industry to begin consolidating the Agency's human and robotic space operations capabilities. In issuing that request for proposals, the Space Operations Management Office reiterated that the change in the way NASA carries out operations will save money in routine operations and enable more resources to be devoted to research and development.

Expected to be awarded in 1998, that Consolidated Space Operations Contract is intended to be a multi-year agreement for sustaining engineering, operations and maintenance of networks, control center facilities, and other critical systems. The eventual value of that performance-based contract is estimated at $500 million to $600 million a year for 10 years.

The function of the Space Operations Management Office is much like that of a private sector operations organization, working toward providing high quality operations services at a reduced cost, moving civil service resources out of operations and into research and development, commercializing whenever possible. As new programs are designed across the Agency, the office will act as a consultant to advise on the most efficient and cost-effective methods of operation.

National Space Biomedical Research Institute

Another agreement was signed in January 1997 by NASA and Baylor College of Medicine of Houston, TX to establish a National Space Biomedical Research Institute. Baylor will lead a consortium of premier academic and research facilities across the country to conduct the focused biomedical research necessary to support human health in the exploration and development of space.

The prototype agreement is for five years with three five-year extensions. The total value of the 20-year agreement is approximately $145 million. The Johnson Space Center will sponsor the institute.

NASA identified the concept of a science institute as a means of maintaining the scientific excellence of its applied biomedical research through a greater involvement of the scientific community in NASA's overall research program.

The members of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute consortium, in addition to Baylor College of Medicine, are Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA; Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine and Applied Physics Laboratory, Baltimore and Laurel, MD; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA; Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA; Rice University in Houston, TX; and Texas A&M University in College Station, TX.

Key specific objectives of the institute are

  • To implement a research plan that will lead to the knowledge and technologies required for long-duration space flight, including specific countermeasures
  • To ensure the dissemination of knowledge to the scientific community
  • To facilitate science community access to NASA's space biomedical research expertise and facilities
  • To ensure that technology development and knowledge are transferred to the private sector

NASA-JSC Inspection

More than 1,200 top executives from companies in 28 states took advantage of the first NASA-JSC Inspection to learn about the Johnson Space Center's missions, technologies and facilities on November 13 and 14, 1996. Guests came from the manufacturing, engineering, medical, architecture, transportation, petroleum, energy and computer industries, and from cities throughout the United States.

The objective of Inspection 96 was to showcase technologies and expertise with potential commercial applications. That was accomplished with more than 120 exhibits and demonstrations in 17 Johnson Space Center facilities.

The first Inspection was such a success that the Johnson Space Center scheduled an Inspection 97 for November 12 to 14, early in FY 1998. It was expanded to 185 exhibits. Many other NASA centers are exhibiting at Inspection 97, including the Ames Research Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Langley Research Center, Lewis Research Center, and Marshall Space Flight Center.