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For Release: March 24, 1998

Kimberly W. Land
(757) 864-9885

RELEASE NO. 98-014


NASA's Langley Research Center has awarded five contracts to four companies to develop prototypes of cryogenic actuators for the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST). The NGST, a predecessor to the Hubble Space Telescope, is a $500 million project planned for launch some time in 2007. The actuators are corrective, movable devices that will perform several objectives for the NGST being developed by NASA.

The contractors will design, fabricate, and test cryogenic actuator systems to control the figure, tip, tilt, and focus of the primary mirror, position of the secondary mirror, and actuator arrays for a deformable mirror as a basic contract effort.

The primary purpose of the NGST will be to view stars in the infrared spectrum - good infrared spectroscopy requires very cold temperatures which allows you to see red-shifted stars better to study the origin of the universe. It will have a primary mirror that is nearly four times as large as Hubble's. The eight meter mirror will have much more light gathering capability than Hubble's. Operating much farther from Earth, the NGST will have more simplified operations, with enhanced image sharpness compared to that of the Hubble Space Telescope.

American Superconductor Corporation based in Westborough, Mass., was awarded a contract for $18,750. American Superconductor Corp. is a leader in developing commercial applications of superconductor technology for the global electric power industry. Xinetics Inc. was awarded a contract for $20,000. Xinetics, Inc. in Devens, Mass., specializes in the development of cryogenic actuators for deformable mirrors.

Energen, Inc. in Billerica, Mass., has been awarded two contracts; one for $32,900 and the other for $34,600. Energen, Inc. develops, manufactures and markets actuators for precision positioning, robotics and active vibration control based on magnetic smart materials technology.

The last contract was awarded to Alson E. Hatheway (AEH), Inc. in Pasadena, California for $41,000. AEH, Inc., recognized for its Angstrom™ transducers and actuators, focuses on engineering solutions, in the areas of precision motion, optomechanics, and engineering analysis.

The NGST is managed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD.


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