NASA Selects Commercial Space Ride For Technology Experiment
Donald Savage |
NASA has awarded a contract to Team Encounter, LLC for a unique space science mission. NASA will send the agency's first space science technology demonstration experiment into space aboard a commercial mission managed by a private company.
Based in Houston, Team Encounter will fly NASA's Inertial Stellar Compass (ISC) Technology Experiment on the company's mission to test solar sail technology in space. Team Encounter will mount NASA's hardware on their spacecraft, integrate and test the system before launch. After launch in the 2004/2005 timeframe, NASA will receive about 30 days of data from the ISC experiment from Team Encounter. The total value of the award is approximately $6.5 million.
The innovative stellar inertial attitude determination system, designed and built by Charles Stark Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, Mass., is one of two technologies selected as part of NASA's New Millennium Program technology experiment known as Space Technology-6 (ST-6).
The ISC is representative of the next generation of highly integrated low power, low mass spacecraft avionics required for many of NASA's future space and Earth science missions. In typical spacecraft systems, gyroscopes and star cameras separately monitor and control the flight of the spacecraft in space. The ISC combines an advanced active pixel sensor star camera with micro-electromechanical system gyros in a small, low mass, low power unit. The mass, power and space savings translates into the ability to build smaller, lighter spacecraft, which would need smaller, less costly, launch vehicles.
"This award is an opportunity for NASA to work closely with commercial industry in a mutually beneficial venture," said Chuck Gay, NASA Program Executive for the New Millennium program at NASA Headquarters, Washington. "It's an effective way to get our technology experiments validated in space at a reasonable cost."
The New Millennium Program was created in 1994 to identify, develop and flight-validate advanced technologies that can lower costs and enable critical performance of science missions in the 21st century.
More information about NASA and the New Millennium is available on the Internet at:
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