WOODLAND HILLS, Calif., Sept. 22, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- European Space Agency (ESA) scientists will rely on a key navigational aid from Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Navigations Systems Division (NSD) when it launches its Herschel Space Observatory into orbit four years from now to study how the first stars and galaxies were formed.
Dutch Space B.V. has selected NSD to provide its scalable space inertial reference unit (SIRU) for the ESA Herschel Space Observatory. This is the first time the scalable SIRU will be used on an ESA satellite. SIRUs supply velocity and angle information to the satellite attitude control system of the satellite.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
"Our scalable SIRU was selected for its inherent precision performance and high reliability, which is central to this type of space-based mission," said Alexis Livanos, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman NSD. "This key win will help position the company for other space-related navigation systems opportunities in the European marketplace."
Herschel is a program led by a consortium of European companies, including prime contractor Alcatel Space S.A.S., service module subcontractor Alenia Spazio S.p.A. and Dutch Space B.V., the latter being the attitude control monitoring system contractor for the program.
"This win culminates a cooperative effort with Dutch Space, ESA, Alcatel Space and Alenia Spazio, leading to the successful completion of their joint technical evaluation and product assurance audit of our scalable SIRU," said Ron Tanabe, director of Space Systems at Northrop Grumman NSD. "The heart of the SIRU product line is our proprietary hemispherical resonator gyro, which has no mechanical parts to wear out."
The contract provides for two scalable SIRUs for the flight satellite and the spare satellite and an optional SIRU for a third satellite.
The Herschel Space Observatory uses an imaging space telescope with a primary mirror 3.5 meters in diameter. During its six-year mission, it will use both the full far-infrared and submillimeter bandwidths of light to determine how the first stars and galaxies formed. It is scheduled to be launched in early 2007 by an Ariane 5 launcher from Kourou, French Guyana.
The Northrop Grumman SIRU product family has logged more than three million gyro operating hours on more than 40 operating systems. The scalable SIRU is designed and space qualified for natural and deep space missions. It offers redundant three-axis continuous attitude reference for missions up to 15 years in length.
Based in Woodland Hills, Northrop Grumman's Navigation Systems Division provides situational awareness for the defense and commercial markets. It offers integrated avionics, inertial navigation and guidance systems, satellite electronics, identification friend-or-foe systems, smart displays, fiber-optic sensors and systems and logistic support products and services.
The Navigation Systems Division is part of the company's Baltimore, Md.-based Electronic Systems sector, a world leader in the design, development and manufacture of defense and commercial electronics and systems including airborne radar, navigation systems, electronic countermeasures, precision weapons, airspace management systems, communications systems, space systems, marine and naval systems, government systems and logistics services.
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