Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Space - The Next Freight Frontier

Boeing bids for NASA Cargo Contract
Shipping News Feature

HOUSTON / USA – Boeing is not normally a company most would consider as a freight business. Generally you would expect their products to be used for carrying cargo in the hands of others. But now the aerospace giant is bidding for a logistics contract that will see the company move into the field. Of course, this being Boeing it is no ordinary contract – rather it’s NASA’s International Space Station (ISS) Cargo Mission Contract.

Proposals for the three - to - seven year contract, which is currently awarded to Lockheed-Martin, are due by the 1st of April with the winner taking charge of the ISS’ cargo requirements at the end of September. Contract services include verifying the adequate performance of integrated cargo carriers, packing pressurized cargo into sub-carriers and returning the cargo to providers once it returns to Earth.

In terms of ‘value-added services’, a field increasingly exploited by more conventional logistics providers, the new contract will make the winner responsible for a range of additional services on top of handling the ISS’ freight requirements – from analysis of cargo to launch preparation and post-landing processing of flight crew equipment.

“Boeing's experience with the International Space Station program allows us to provide an offer that supports NASA's priorities for safety, mission success, and innovation,” said Brad Cothran, Boeing's capture team lead for the contract.

“We look forward to continuing our support of NASA and the future of the International Space Station. The ISS is an important international asset as both a research laboratory and test bed for living and working in space,” he added.

Value wise the respective bidders are, naturally, keeping quiet. However Lockheed, who held the contract from January 2004, are expected to have grossed $381 million by the time their current deal expires.

Looks like it may be time for a new section in the Handy Shipping Guide freight directory: Shipping Schedules – Ex-Atmospheric Consolidations perhaps?