REDONDO BEACH, Calif., April 3, 2008 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) is a partner on five contracts awarded by NASA to investigate concepts for next-generation space telescopes. The concepts include a powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, three planet finding missions, and a futuristic x-ray space telescope.

The study results will be submitted for consideration to the scientific community during the upcoming National Academy of Science's Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey, which sets priorities for future astrophysics missions.

  The five contracts include:

 -- A mission to identify new materials and design problems involved
    in the construction of a 52-foot diameter space telescope called
    the Advanced Technology Large Aperture Space Telescope (ATLAST).
    Northrop Grumman is teamed with Principal Investigator Marc
    Postman of the Space Telescope Science Institute.

 -- A mission to image nearby Earth-sized worlds using large
    telescopes with multiple instruments and separate "starshade"
    spacecraft to block the light from these exoplanets's host stars.
    This study, called New Worlds Observer, will build on research
    already performed by Northrop Grumman with Principal Investigator
    Webster Cash of the University of Colorado.

 -- A mission called Actively-Corrected Coronagraphs for Exoplanet
    System Studies (ACCESS) to directly image giant planets around
    nearby stars using a medium-size coronagraph.  Northrop Grumman's
    Space Technology sector is teamed with Principal Investigator John
    Trauger of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

 -- A mission called Generation-X to create the next generation of
    extremely precise and large optics for X-ray astronomy.  Northrop
    Grumman Space Technology is teamed with Principal Investigator
    Roger Brissenden at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for

 -- A mission called Dilute Aperture Visible Nulling Coronagraph
    Imager (DAViNCI) for exoplanet exploration using multiple
    telescopes and a specially designed visible nulling interferometer
    to detect Earth-like planets.  Northrop Grumman Space Technology
    is working with Principal Investigator Michael Shao of the Jet
    Propulsion Laboratory.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $32 billion global defense and technology company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide.

  CONTACT:  Sally Koris
          Northrop Grumman Space Technology