NASA Awards Caltech Five-Year JPL Contract

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November 26, 2002

NASA has awarded the California Institute of Technology a new five-year contract to manage the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It is estimated the contract will cover more than $8 billion worth of work.

The contract extends for five years the JPL agreement between Caltech and NASA for management of JPL beyond its current expiration date of Sept. 30, 2003. The NASA contract includes a new provision that, based on performance reviews, may extend the contract period of performance for up to an additional five years.

Consistent with the agency's "One NASA" initiative, the new contract will more closely align JPL's policies and procedures with those of other NASA centers.

"Speaking for the Caltech board of trustees, the faculty, and students, we are all extremely pleased that we will be continuing our relationship with NASA," said Dr. David Baltimore, Caltech's president. "This contract establishes an excellent framework for Caltech to continue its strong support of NASA. The institute provides stewardship of the world-class talent and capability at JPL that will continue to explore the universe, search for life in it, understand and protect our planet, and inspire the next generation of explorers."

"We are delighted to have completed this contract negotiation ahead of schedule," said Dr. Ed Weiler, associate administrator for space science at NASA's headquarters, in Washington, D.C. "The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a national treasure with an amazing record of successes unmatched in the world. This new contract gives NASA much improved capabilities and management tools and provides powerful incentives for JPL. I think this is good news for NASA, JPL, Caltech and the American people who benefit from the unbelievable work done at JPL," he said.

JPL, NASA's only federally funded research and development center, conducts research expanding human understanding of Earth, the Sun, the solar system, stars, planetary systems, galaxies, and the formation and evolution of the universe. JPL also manages NASA's Mars Exploration Program, which is operating two spacecraft orbiting the red planet and is planning a series of ambitious missions over the next decade, including twin rovers scheduled for launch next year. JPL's other responsibilities include support to NASA's applications, space sciences, Earth science and other science programs.

JPL uses instrument observations from space vehicles as the primary tools for planetary exploration, investigations, and science programs. These missions are supported by ground-based research and laboratory experiments. Earth science includes research into interactions of our planet's oceans, atmosphere, and continents, and the effects of solar energy in order to gain an integrated understanding of the total Earth system.

The new contract focuses JPL on its core mission with incentives for performance, and returns full management to JPL of the Deep Space Network, which communicates with interplanetary spacecraft. The management change will assure greater reliability for the network and more management clarity. In addition, JPL now has the ability to review and comment directly on NASA policies that affect their performance, thus improving JPL's ability to accomplish its missions and providing NASA with advice on the impacts of new policies.

Contacts: JPL/Frank O'Donnell (818) 354-7170

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