Huntsville's Dynetics wins $221M NASA contract, expanding to Decatur

Updated: Jun. 7, 2017 at 8:57 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Hints have been coming for months. Now it's official. Dynetics is going to turn dirt on a new aerospace structures complex in Decatur along Red Hat Road.

Groundbreaking is scheduled to happen within the next two weeks.

Huntsville's Dynetics just won a prime contract from NASA to manage the design, analysis, manufacturing, testing and assembly of the Universal Stage Adapter (USA) for the second integrated mission of the Space Launch System (SLS).

The USA is the conduit between the rocket's upper stage and the Orion crew capsule and will provide structural, electrical and communication paths between the two. The USA will also house and protect large payloads, like habitats, deep-space exploration spacecraft and secondary payloads including CubeSats. The USA will envelope those fragile pieces on the ground, during launch and ascent phases into space.

NASA's SLS, with the exploration upper stage for EM-2, is expected to lift more than 105 metric tons (231,000 pounds) from the Earth's surface.

The Dynetics contract is valued at $221 million.

Dynetics will be doing the work at its Huntsville facility until the USA assembly facility in Decatur is operational in 2019.

Steve Cook is Dynetics' president for technical services. He left NASA after managing the Ares 1 project and said he is excited about this new trajectory for his company and the location next to the Rocket City,

"It's a great site because it's right here on the (Tennessee) river. You have barge access right down the street. Red Hat Road is a great place to locate something like this. You can build large structures here, transport them to the river, then you can take them down to NASA-Michoud. You can take them to the Kennedy Space Center. You can take them anywhere," said Cook.

Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling was over the moon on May 31 when Swiss aerospace company RUAG opened up a brand new facility inside United Launch Alliance.

"We are thankful Dynetics is continuing to invest in north Alabama to make ULA more competitive. It is thrilling to see world-class aerospace manufacturers expand their footprint in Decatur and Morgan County, which shows confidence in our workforce. As always, we are thankful for the hardworking EDA and local team for this wonderful news," said Bowling.

NASA has delayed the first flight of the Space Launch System to 2019 (EM-1). Its second flight is tentatively scheduled between 2021 and 2023.

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