REDONDO BEACH, Calif., March 8, 2006 (PRIMEZONE) -- Recent tests demonstrated that the first Fault Tolerant 1394 integrated circuits adapted for use in space are performing as planned. Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE:NOC) led the effort to verify, qualify and manufacture the circuits for use on the next generation of polar orbiting environmental satellites.

The IEEE 1394a, an industry standard widely used in commercial electronics, was tailored to efficiently and reliably manage the large amounts of data that will be generated by sensors on the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) and the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP). Some sensors will generate more than 30 megabits of data per second.

"The 1394 tests are an important milestone," said Dave Ryan, Northrop Grumman vice president and NPOESS program director. "This chipset is among the most technologically innovative aspects of the NPOESS program. We worked with the government and our teammates to develop these new integrated circuits and successfully test them on the first spacecraft they will be used on, so we are very pleased."

The tests were performed on NPP with the Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) engineering development unit, using the technology at ambient (room) temperature over several weeks at Ball Aerospace & Technologies' facilities in Colorado. Ball Aerospace is prime contractor for NPP, a risk reduction mission for NPOESS; Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for NPOESS.

"This was a three phase test program, structured to verify network stability, to check out control and network management algorithms, and finally, to ensure the technology's compatibility with the spacecraft. These were tests were successfully completed ahead of schedule," said Bruce Penner, manager of NPP command and data handling, Ball Aerospace.

The 1394 technology enables serial, networked communications between spacecraft sensors and the spacecraft. It operates at speeds up to 100 megabits per second, or 100 times faster than existing integrated circuits used in space for command and data handling. Other benefits include:

  --  A standardized, plug and play interface that can be used by
      multiple sensors and spacecraft computers;
  --  High speed serial data transport;
  --  Easy addition of new nodes and instruments;
  --  Compatibility with 1394a standard ground support equipment
      and custom off-the-shelf test hardware;
  --  Elimination of the need for custom designs.

The NPOESS Integrated Program Office started the technology's development phase and awarded Northrop Grumman a contract in 2003 to complete design, verify, manufacture and space-qualify the chipset and 1394 User Datagram Protocol/Internet protocol (UDP/IP) driver, as well as provide technical support to the NPP and NPOESS users.

Engineering the chips for flight required radiation-hardening of the silicon to withstand the harsh environment of space. The chipset was designed and built to withstand total dose radiation accumulation and single event upsets- crashes due to bombardment by high energy particles.

Northrop Grumman Space Technology, based in Redondo Beach, Calif., develops a broad range of systems at the leading edge of space, defense and electronics technology. The sector creates products for U.S. military and civilian customers that contribute significantly to the nation's security and leadership in science and technology.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense company headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. Northrop Grumman provides technologically advanced, innovative products, services and solutions in systems integration, defense electronics, information technology, advanced aircraft, shipbuilding and space technology. With approximately 125,000 employees and operations in all 50 states and 25 countries, Northrop Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers.

  CONTACT:  Sally Koris
          Northrop Grumman Space Technology
          (310) 812-4721

          Emilia Reed
          Ball Aerospace
          (303) 533-6059