Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colorado, is getting a five-year, sole-source contract to refurbish the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE)-3 instrument and prepare it for a 2016 flight to the international space station.
“Because of its long history of designing, developing, fabricating, qualifying and calibrating all of the SAGE series of the instruments, [Ball] is the only source capable of providing the unique capabilities required to complete the refurbishment and test campaign for the SAGE III on ISS instrument,” NASA wrote in an April 29 notice of its intent to give the work to Ball without seeking competing bids. NASA did not say when the contract would be awarded, or how much it will be worth.
NASA spokesman Steven Cole, reached by email April 30, had no immediate comment about the award.
SAGE 3 has encountered years of delays on its way to the international space station. NASA originally thought it could get the pollution-monitoring instrument there in 2005. The budget request the agency released in March included a 2015 target date, but the April 29 sole-source notice calls for a 2016 launch. SAGE-3 is slated to fly to station aboard one of the cargo resupply missions Space Exploration Technologies Corp. carries out for NASA with its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule.
The SAGE-3 instrument is currently in storage at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Ball has built other copies of the instrument, which have been used in various Earth science missions dating back to 1979.