SAN DIEGO, Aug. 17, 2011 -- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) have received a NASA Group Achievement Award for the successful development of the first civilian use of the Global Hawk system for the NASA science community.

"The strong partnership between NASA and Northrop Grumman enabled the Global Hawk team to recognize the individuals and the benefits of collaboration, reaching new capabilities and discoveries in earth science," said Scott Winship, Advanced Concepts vice president, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.

In 2007, NASA obtained two Advanced Capability Technology Demonstration Global Hawks from the U.S. Air Force for Environment Science research. In 2008, an agreement was signed between NASA Dryden Flight Research Center and Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, Advanced Programs and Technology Division, to operate the aircraft in a partnership known as the Space Act Agreement, sharing equally in the expenses - and employment of the aircraft. A team was put into place at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to retrofit, operate and maintain the aircraft for various operations.

This government/industry partnership has been a key enabler to expanding every nation's access to environmental data related to our world. Flying as high as 65,000 feet for periods of up to 30 hours, Global Hawk provides the NASA science community with a vehicle to explore the earth's atmosphere and conduct further critical science missions over remote areas of the globe. The award recognized this innovative partnership and use of a system that provided an unprecedented capability for the NASA airborne science program.

Under the Space Act Agreement, the team has made significant strides to prepare and ready for missions – from developing a new ground control station for Dryden operations to retrofitting the aircraft to meet the specific requirements of planned science missions. In 2010, a NASA Global Hawk flew over the Pacific Ocean as part of the Global Hawk Pacific campaign, operating over the Equator of the Pacific to the North Pole. Later that year, the aircraft was used in the Genesis and Rapid Intensification Process hurricane surveillance missions, which provided extended coverage monitoring changes in hurricane intensity during five different storms in the Southern Caribbean and Western Atlantic.

This year, a NASA Global Hawk was used for the Winter Storms and Pacific Atmospheric Rivers campaign to study atmospheric rivers. Northrop Grumman, under contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for the KQ-X program will demonstrate the first high altitude fully autonomous aerial refueling between two NASA Global Hawk unmanned aircraft.

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