DULLES, Va., March 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) announced today that the National Space Program Office (NSPO) of Taiwan, Republic of China, has awarded the company a $56 million contract for the Republic of China Satellite (ROCSAT-3)/Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate (COSMIC) program. The ROCSAT-3/COSMIC program will use a constellation of six remote sensing microsatellites to collect atmospheric data for weather prediction and for ionosphere, climate and gravity research.

Under the terms of the contract, Orbital's Space Systems Group will be responsible for constellation design and analysis, joint development of the spacecraft bus with NSPO, payload instrument development and oversight of components made by Taiwan local vendors. Orbital will also provide assistance with system integration, satellite integration and testing in Taiwan, early in-orbit checkout, satellite positioning and mission operations. Orbital and NSPO are planning to launch the six satellites in early 2005. The satellites are designed with an expected in-orbit operational life span of five years.

"We are extremely pleased and honored that NSPO has selected us as their partner in this groundbreaking project. The ROCSAT/COSMIC mission will be the third space mission in the history of Taiwan's national space program and the first to employ a constellation of microsatellites, which is an Orbital specialty," said Mr. David W. Thompson, Orbital's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "We are looking forward to a long and close working relationship with NSPO and the program's industrial partners in Taiwan."

The ROCSAT-3/COSMIC program is an international collaboration between Taiwan and the United States that seeks to improve existing weather forecasting and climate monitoring systems. The project builds on a proof-of- concept experiment carried on the Orbital-built and launched OrbView-1 satellite, which was deployed in 1995 and still operates today. The ROCSAT- 3/COSMIC constellation will augment the current global atmospheric observing systems and provide essential data for improved forecasting of weather and climate research, by providing more than 2,500 atmospheric measurements"" per day, around the world and in all weather conditions.

The ROCSAT-3/COSMIC satellites are based on Orbital's flight-proven MicroStar spacecraft platform, which is designed to be launched in multiple or "piggyback" units. It is one of world's 'most widely flown spacecraft platforms, with nearly 40 Microstar-based satellites currently in orbit. For the ROCSAT-3/COSMIC mission, each MicroStar satellite will carry three instruments: a GPS receiver, an ionospheric photometer and a tri-band beacon. The satellites will be commanded from an operations center in Taiwan and data will be relayed to a facility in Boulder, Colorado for analysis and archiving. This data will be made freely available to the international scientific community in near real-time.

'Orbital is one of the world's leading manufacturers of low-cost space systems, including satellites, launch vehicles, space sensors and satellite ground systems. Its Magellan subsidiary offers the industry's broadest line of GPS-enabled navigation and positioning products for consumer and industrial markets. Through its relationships with ORBCOMM, ORBIMAGE and ORBNAV, Orbital is also involved with satellite-based networks that provide data communications, high-resolution imagery and automotive information services to customers around the world.

More information about Orbital can be found at http://www.orbital.com . SOURCE Orbital Sciences Corporation

CONTACT: Barron Beneski, 703-406-5000 or beneski.barron@orbital.com or Investors: Timothy Perrott, 703-406-5997 or perrott.tim@orbital.com, both of Orbital Sciences Corporation/