NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

Jet Propulsion Laboratory has selected RCA Corp., Princeton, N.J., and Orbital Sciences Corp. (OSC), Vienna, Va., for negotiations leading to the award of contracts to build spacecraft and upper stage booster, respectively, for the Mars Observer Mission scheduled for launch in 1990.

Negotiations with RCA for the spacecraft will be conducted by JPL. Negotiations with Orbital Sciences for the upper stage will be conducted by the Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.

In view of bid protest filed with the General Accounting Office, contracts will not be executed nor will proposed contract values be announced until the protest is resolved.

The Mars Observer will study the climate of Mars, its atmosphere and surface using eight science instruments while in orbit around the planet during full Martian year (687 Earth days).

Scheduled for launch in August, 1990, the Mars Observer is the first in series of proposed Planetary Observer programs using existing technology and spacecraft designs to provide economical scientific investigations of Venus, Mars, the Moon and near-Earth asteroids.

The basic contracts would extend through February 1991 for the upper stage booster development, and through September 1993 for the spacecraft development and flight operations.

The spacecraft contract will include an option provision for three additional spacecraft buses, and the upper stage contract will include options for three additional stages.

Fixed-price contracts with incentive provisions are planned for both the spacecraft and upper stage development.

Other bidders included Hughes Aircraft Co. and Ford Aerospace and Communications Corporation.

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