WALLOPS ISLAND, Va., May 2, 2001 (PRIMEZONE) -- A cooperative internship program between Litton PRC, a Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) company; the University of Virginia (UVA) and NASA has culminated in the successful launch of a student-designed payload aboard an Orion sounding rocket at NASA's Wallops Island, Va., facility. The 20-minute flight carried a new infrared (IR) sensing package engineered and built by the undergraduate intern team.
Litton PRC, through its NASA Sounding Rocket Operations Contract (NSROC), designed the unique internship program in conjunction with Dr. Gabriel Laufer, head of the UVA Aerospace Engineering Department. Responding to a decrease during the past 10 years in undergraduate aerospace engineering students, Dr. Laufer implemented the concept of an actual launch into his curriculum to boost interest in the program. The internship program exposes undergraduates to every facet of sounding rocket operations, including design, fabrication, testing and launch. The program also receives funding from the Virginia Space Grant Consortium.
"This launch demonstrates that undergraduate students are capable of handling a major engineering challenge," said Jan Jackson, NSROC marketing representative for Litton PRC and coordinator of the UVA internship program. "Qualified engineers are essential to our ability to support NASA, and this program helps to ensure that graduates enter the workforce with the experience and knowledge the space program needs."
The 19-foot Orion rocket, with its 214-pound sensor payload, was launched at 6:35 a.m. E.D.T. on April 27. The mission's objective was to receive calibrated measurements of land and ocean temperatures by using a thermoelectrically cooled IR sensor and the sky as a zero reference.
Data was fed from on-board cameras to telemetry ground stations and additional data was captured by the on-board VCR and data logger. The payload was recovered at sea approximately 14 miles from shore. The data logger and VCR will provide additional analytical material, which will be studied by the students when they return to UVA. Preliminary results indicate that the mission was successful in all aspects.
Litton PRC is a leading provider of scientific, engineering, and information technology-based solutions for public sector clients. Litton PRC, headquartered in McLean, Va., is a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman and employs more than 6,000 people in 150 offices nationwide. It is ranked as one of the federal government's top 10 contractors. Litton PRC is one of the few companies worldwide to achieve the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) capability maturity model (CMM) Level 5 rating, the highest software development process improvement level a company can earn. More information can be found at Litton PRC's Web site at www.littonprc.com .
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $15 billion, global aerospace and defense company with its worldwide headquarters in Los Angeles. Northrop Grumman provides technologically advanced, innovative products, services and solutions in defense and commercial electronics, systems integration, information technology and non-nuclear shipbuilding and systems. With 80,000 employees and operations in 44 states and 25 countries, Northrop Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers.
CONTACT: Litton PRC David Whitaker (703) 556-2164