Los Angeles-based aerospace giant Northrop Grumman Corp. on Thursday surprisingly lost a $3.9 billion NASA contract to Lockheed Martin Corp., a defeat only mildly placated by winning a $95.8 million design contract for the U.S. Navy's DDG 1000 destroyer.

As lead contractor on an ambitious project to build a new generation spacecraft to the moon, the NASA contract gives Lockheed its first lead role in U.S. manned space flight. Northrop had been given the edge by some analysts because of its longer history on space programs.

The Navy contract that Northrop was awarded would involve detail design and the procurement of any vendor-furnished information that will be used in support of the design. The contract runs through September 2007, but could grow to more than $300 million through 2013 if fully funded.

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