DULLES, Va., May 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) announced today that its Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS), also known as the "Canadarm," is playing a key role on NASA's current Space Shuttle Atlantis supply mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Built by Orbital's MD Robotics division in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, the SRMS is a state-of-the-art robotic device that can retrieve satellites for maintenance, as well as assist astronauts as they work in space. Five different SRMS units have performed a total of 54 space missions since its first use in 1981, aiding astronauts in over 20 spacewalks, facilitating repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), helping the Shuttle dock with Russia's Mir space station and connecting the first two modules of the ISS.

The primary goals of the current Shuttle mission (STS-101) are to prepare the ISS for the arrival of the Russian "Zvezda" service module, deliver supplies to the facility and reboost the station into a higher orbit. For these activities, the SRMS is being used to support a spacewalk by astronauts who are performing maintenance to the outside of the ISS and assembling a Russian crane.

Last December, Orbital's SRMS robotic arm helped NASA restore the HST, the premier space-based optical observatory, to full operations after the famous telescope was temporarily placed in a safe "shut down" condition. Astronauts used the SRMS to capture the orbiting HST, move it to the Shuttle's cargo bay for repairs and later re-deploy it into orbit. The SRMS was also used as an extravehicular mobile work platform for four separate spacewalks by the Shuttle's astronaut crew.

SRMS units will also take part in three additional Shuttle missions scheduled for later this year to help build the ISS which, when completed, will cover an area larger than two football fields:

  • STS-106 - August 19 (Atlantis)

  • STS-92 - September 21 (Discovery)

  • STS-97 - November 30 (Endeavour)

Orbital's next-generation space robotics technology also will be featured on the Mobile Servicing System (MSS), which MD Robotics is building as part of Canada's contribution to the ISS. This system will assist in construction and maintenance of the ISS, transporting supplies, releasing and recovering satellites, servicing instruments attached to the station and supporting astronauts working in space. The MSS and related equipment is scheduled to be launched on three Space Shuttle flights beginning in early 2001.

Orbital is one of the largest space technology and satellite services companies in the world, with 1999 total enterprise revenues of about $915 million. The company, which is headquartered in Dulles, Virginia, employs approximately 5,500 people at major facilities in the United States, Canada and several overseas locations. Orbital is the world's leading manufacturer of low-cost space systems and products, including satellites, launch vehicles, electronics and sensors, satellite ground systems, and satellite-based navigation and communications products. Through its ORBCOMM and ORBIMAGE affiliates and ORBNAV subsidiary, Orbital is also a pioneering operator of satellite-based networks that provide data communications, high-resolution imagery and automotive information services to customers all around the world.

    The following sites also offer related information:

    SRMS description, flight history and images
    STS-101 mission update            http://www.spaceflight.nasa.gov/shuttle/

STS-101 mission overview


ISS assembly information

http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/station/assembly/index.html SOURCE Orbital Sciences Corporation

/NOTE TO EDITORS: To learn more about Orbital, as well as to access its recent press releases, please visit its web site at http://www.orbital.com/

CONTACT: Barron Beneski of Orbital Sciences Corporation, 703-406-5000 or beneski.barron@orbital.com/