June 28, 2012

Northrop Grumman’s Modular Space Vehicle completes CDR process, moves program to manufacturing phase

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. – Northrop Grumman has just finished conducting a two-day Spacecraft Baseline Interim Design Review, successfully completing the Spacecraft Bus Critical Design Review process for the Modular Space Vehicle program. This review moves work on this next-generation spacecraft design to the fabrication stage.

The company’s spacecraft design for the MSV program is the first to implement Spacecraft Plug and Play architecture standards developed by an industry consortium in conjunction with the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Department of Defense Operationally Responsive Space office at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.

“Completing the CDR process shows that our design meets mission requirements and moves the program toward the launch of a first-of-its-kind vehicle that could revolutionize the way spacecraft are built,” said Steve Hixson, vice president, advanced concepts – space and directed energy systems, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “We are bringing network avionics technology to spaceflight and giving the nation an affordable option to respond to rapidly changing, multi-mission needs.”

This open architecture allows various payload modules to plug into a central spacecraft processor by means of a standardized technology, much like the way peripherals can be plugged into computers via USB ports. The reduction in complexity results in a spacecraft that is much more cost effective, modular and reconfigurable than typical space vehicles in this class. It also allows space programs to focus more resources on the payload, the heart of the mission.

“We’ve proven we can design an architecture that will increase value and responsiveness for our customers through a pioneering engineering approach that drives down the cost and time required to configure, design and build a spacecraft bus,” said Phil Katz, MSV program manager, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “We are ready to start hardware fabrication and deliver a finished bus by the middle of next year.”

The company is performing development tasks under a five-year contract awarded in November 2010 by the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., supporting the Department of Defense Operationally Responsive Space office.

Northrop Grumman has successfully used the rapid development approach before, building and launching the award-winning Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite for NASA Ames in just 27 months.

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