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India-born Dr Khaturia's PlanetSpace to partner Boeing for US space supplies programme news
27 October 2008

Against the backdrop of India's pioneering mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan-1, India-born Dr Chirinjeev Kathuria's American company has partnered with aerospace company Boeing for a role in America's manned space missions. Khaturia's company PlanetSpace, in partnership with Boeing, is looking to compete for a $3 billion commercial re-supply services contract (CRS) that will ship cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) after 2011.

Around this time the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is planning to decommission its existing space shuttle programme. PlanetSpace is already collaborating with defence manufacturer Lockheed Martin and advanced space systems company Alliant Techsystems (ATK). 

In a statement on its website, PlanetSpace said it has added the Space Exploration division of The Boeing Company to its existing team-mates, Alliant Techsystems and Lockheed Martin Corporation on the proposed solution to NASA for the commercial resupply services to the International Space Station.

The PlanetSpace ISS commercial resupply services (CRS) team includes PlanetSpace as the overall prime contractor and manages the CRS contract, with ATK providing the Athena III launch vehicle and ground processing. Lockheed Martin and Boeing will develop, produce and operate modular Orbital Transfer  Vehicles (OTV) that serve as the cargo carriers to the International Space Station.

''We are thrilled to add Boeing to round out our extraordinary team,'' said Dr Chirinjeev Kathuria. ''This team brings together technical innovations leveraging more than 50 years of relevant experience using flight-qualified US-built space shuttle solid rocket motors, Athena launch vehicles, proven space vehicle technology and on-orbit operations.''

New Delhi-born Chirinjeev Kathuria has lived in Illinois since he was eight months old. He graduated as a valedictorian of Downers Grove North School, and holds a bachelor degree in science and was a doctor of medicine before starting out in business ventures. He is an MBA from Stanford University. 

Boeing's role on the team includes providing cargo carrier development, cargo integration services, and ISS integration and operations support. 

"This CRS contract is an important part of ensuring the long-term viability and value of the ISS. Boeing is pleased to be a part of the PlanetSpace CRS team," said Brewster Shaw, vice president and general manager of Boeing's Space Exploration division. 

"The Boeing Company, as a partner in the design, development and integration of the ISS shares NASA's interest in ensuring this national resource and world-class laboratory is used to its full capability and potential." 

ATK provides the innovative Athena III launch vehicle for the PlanetSpace team. It is based on propulsion with demonstrated performance on multiple launch vehicles. 

The first stage is a 2.5 segment derivative of the Space Shuttle's four-segment Solid Rocket Booster (SRB). The second stage is the ATK CASTOR 120, utilised on the Athena I, Athena II and Taurus I launch vehicles. That foundation is topped by an ATK CASTOR 30 third stage and a flight-proven Orbit Adjust Module. 

''By using existing hardware that is U.S.-built and has demonstrated performance, we shorten the development timeline,'' said Kent Rominger, vice president of Advanced Programs, for ATK's Launch Systems Division. 

''The Athena III provides a cost-effective solution to meet NASA's cargo requirements.''

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, using its vast interplanetary, autonomous spacecraft design, manufacturing, system integration, and mission operations experience is developing the Orbital Transfer Vehicles for PlanetSpace. 

"We are very pleased to be on the PlanetSpace team and to bring our full range of expertise to assure reliable Space Station resupply services," said John Karas, vice president and general manager of Human Space Flight for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. 

"The PlanetSpace team leverages the combined spacecraft, launch vehicle and human space flight systems that are the core competencies of our companies. We bring significant expertise in program management, autonomous spacecraft design, manufacturing, systems integration and mission operations for this vital mission to maximize the role of the space station. 

The statement says that the consortium is continuing discussions with Space Florida on a nonexclusive basis for Space Launch Complex 36 on Cape Canaveral, with Florida being a desired location as long as satisfactory financial incentives are agreed to. 

Space Florida drives aerospace economic development in the state and serves as a catalyst for space-related business development, education, spaceport operations, research and development, workforce development and financing.

"Space Florida has worked with PlanetSpace to facilitate their needs during the RFP proposal phase," stated Steve Kohler, President, Space Florida. 

"Through the Teaming Agreement we have established the parameters of support and development we can assist with for a planned future commercial launch site near Kennedy Space Centre, if they win the bid." 

The team's ISS commercial re-supply program provides 100 per cent United States manufactured assets, which save and create hundreds of US jobs, and could have an economic impact exceeding $300 million. 

Additional team participants include PTC, SPACEHAB and MEHTA Engineering.
''The team PlanetSpace has assembled is the only team that can address NASA's capability based on availability of heritage hardware and software systems, unprecedented corporate commitment and the reputations for ultimate mission success,'' said Kathuria. 

''We commend Congress and NASA on their continued commitment to support and grow commercial spaceflight supporting our nation's space utilization needs.''

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India-born Dr Khaturia's PlanetSpace to partner Boeing for US space supplies programme