REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Feb. 5, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Launch processing of the 23rd and final Northrop Grumman Corporation-built (NYSE:NOC) Defense Support Program (DSP) satellite took a major step forward with the mating of the satellite and the launch vehicle payload adapter. DSP Flight 23 will be launched on April 1 by a Delta IV-Heavy from the United States Canaveral Air Force Station, Launch Complex 37.

The next step in the process toward launch is the encapsulation of the spacecraft into the launch vehicle fairing. Early next month, the encapsulated payload will be transported from the spacecraft integration facility to the launch complex and mated on the booster.

"We're moving forward towards the launch of the final production satellite in the Defense Support Program," said Peggy Paul, DSP program manager for Northrop Grumman Space Technology. "This represents a major milestone in a program that has served the nation continuously since 1970 and will continue contributing to the nation's defense well into the next decade."

The first DSP was launched during the Cold War to monitor strategic and ballistic missile launches against the United States and its allies. Northrop Grumman built and integrated the spacecraft and infrared sensor for United States Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center; Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories also provided payloads.

The Defense Support Program satellites have evolved through four upgrades that significantly improved mission capability and system performance, survivability and expanded its missions. Upgrades to the ground data processing system provide the warfighter with timelier and more accurate information. DSP satellites have demonstrated longevity that averages nearly four times the design life requirement, providing an extra 155 satellite-years on-orbit to date.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $30 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
          (310) 812-4721
          Cell: (310) 567-5279
          Sally.koris@ngc.com