LOS ANGELES, Dec. 17, 2004 (PRIMEZONE) -- NASA has selected six Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) proposals valued at approximately $137 million over four years to develop human and robotic technologies that would have pivotal roles in its Vision for Space Exploration.

The awards cover a variety of company-proposed concepts to help NASA conduct sustainable and affordable exploration missions beyond low-Earth orbit. NASA's Office of Exploration Systems Research and Technology (ESR&T) is funding the proposals. Work is expected to begin in early 2005.

Examples of technologies the company will develop for the initiative include:

  -- An insect-like robot to autonomously inspect and maintain
    exteriors of spacecraft, such as the Space Shuttle,
    International Space Station or the proposed Crew Exploration
    Vehicle.  The six-legged robot would improve astronaut safety
    by reducing extravehicular activities.

 -- A restowable, heat-resistant "skirt" that deploys around a
    spacecraft just before reentry.  By slowing the spacecraft
    significantly, the skirt reduces heat damage to the
    spacecraft, giving NASA a cost-effective option to re-use
    major elements of the spacecraft for future exploration missions.

 -- An engine for a "space ferry" that would carry people and cargo
    between the Lunar surface and Lunar orbit as needed.  The engine
    would be re-fueled from materials mined on the moon, improving
    affordability by greatly decreasing the use of one-time,
    expendable equipment.
 

"The selection of these proposals recognize that Northrop Grumman's fresh ideas and creative uses of existing technologies are part of the 'new thinking' that will be needed to meet the renewed challenge of space exploration," said Sonya Sepahban, Northrop Grumman Space Technology vice president and corporate lead executive for exploration systems research and technology. "We have a heritage of innovation that has delivered assured capabilities to many space programs, from the Pioneer spacecraft to the Chandra X-ray Observatory. We'll apply the same imaginative approaches that'll help open new frontiers and make new discoveries as NASA charts a new course through the cosmos," she added.

In addition to the three previously described, other company proposals the company will pursue under the NASA awards include:

  -- Small, easily producible phased-array antennas for satellites
    using a low-cost electrically scanned array.  This could reduce
    these antennas by 10 times in cost and size while providing
    extremely fast communications for space, ground and
    exploration vehicles.

 -- An "open systems," health-management architecture that will
    demonstrate new ways to monitor and manage, on an integrated
    basis, the health, status and resource availability of the major
    subsystems required to operate and maintain a space exploration
    system.

 -- A family of lightweight, self-cleaning, anti-contamination
    coatings to address dust mitigation requirements for future
    moon and Mars missions.
 

"The maturation of these key technologies will help NASA reach its goal of implementing an integrated space exploration architecture that's technically achievable, logistically supportable and economically sustainable well into the future," said Doug Young, Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems' director of space systems and corporate lead executive for Project Constellation. "We will continue to identify additional critical technologies that will be needed as NASA extends its space exploration initiative to Mars and beyond."

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense company headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. It provides technologically advanced, innovative products, services and solutions in systems integration, defense electronics, information technology, advanced aircraft, shipbuilding and space technology. With 125,000 employees, and operations in all 50 states and 25 countries, the company serves U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers. Today, more than 20,000 of Northrop Grumman's employees are devoted to space related projects.

  CONTACT:  Bob Bishop  
          Northrop Grumman Space Technology
          (310) 812-5227
          bob.j.bishop@ngc.com

          Brooks McKinney, APR
          Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems
          (310) 331-6610 
          (310) 864-3785
          brooks.mckinney@ngc.com