Astrotech Corp. of Austin, Texas, was awarded a contract from the U.S. Navy to provide payload processing for a satellite communications system set to begin launching in 2012, the company announced Jan. 7.

The Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command will rely on Astrotech to process the first Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) spacecraft. The contract includes options to process as many as four subsequent MUOS satellites. Astrotech spokesman Scott Haywood could not provide the value of the contract by press time.

The satellite processing will include advance planning, use of unique facilities, fueling, encapsulation and transportation to the launch pad, the press release said.