NASA has awarded contracts worth a combined total of $203.2m to Air Products and Messer LLC to supply gaseous and liquid helium for its space projects.

The total value of the contract with Air Products, including options, is approximately $168m while the Messer contract, including options, is approximately $35.2m in total.

Each contract with NASA is a fixed-price, indefinite-delivery requirement contract that began on October 1 with a two-year base period, followed by three one-year options that, if exercised, will extend the contract to September 30, 2024.

The US space agency uses helium as an inert purge gas for hydrogen systems and a pressurising agent for ground and flight fluid systems.

Helium is also used throughout the agency as a cryogenic agent for cooling various materials and has been used in precision welding applications.

Helium is required to support the Space Launch System (SLS), Orion spacecraft, Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), International Space Station, and various other programmes.