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NASA taps Unisys for flight sim mission

Nerdy wingman suits up for cool $48.5m

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Here's a job you probably wish you had. Unisys has just been tapped by NASA's Langley Research Center to provide application development and systems integration services for the space agency's simulators and flight research projects. The contract has a potential value of $48.5m.

More than a decade ago, NASA Langley (which is abbreviated LaRC) hired Unisys to create the Langley Standard Realtime Simulation in C++ framework to standardize the way NASA simulates the various aircraft it designs and uses. The LaSRS++ platform is an object-oriented framework, enabling anywhere from 60 to 95 percent of the code used to simulate one aircraft to be used to simulate another.

Unisys, which has been doing support and development work for NASA for 35 years, had to competitively bid for the flight simulator contract. The company did not say who else bid on the deal, but given that Unisys helped create the LaSRS++ platform, it stands to reason that it has the inside track on keeping the support contract.

Unisys probably knows all the cheats for the NASA simulators too.

Under the terms of the contract with NASA Langley, Unisys has a three-year deal valued at $28m with a two-year extension that Uncle Sam can activate that is worth $20.5m. The contract calls for Unisys to do hardware and software design, development, and testing for NASA simulators and maintain the systems to run the simulators. These simulators are for commercial aircraft such as Boeing MD-11s, 757s and 787s, but also are used for space missions.

If NASA took the LaSRS++ software open source, it could probably get a bunch of geeks to do the support for free. Just a thought in the spirit of cost cutting. ®

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