Briefs

by












  Space News Business

Briefs

posted: 06 September 2007
12:25 pm ET











ITT To Deploy GPS-Based Air Traffic Control System









ITT Corp. bested rivals Lockheed Martin and Raytheon to snare




a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) contract potentially worth up to $1.8 billion over 18 years to build a GPS-based national air traffic control system.



The new system, called Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), is intended to reduce delays and pollution and enhance aviation safety in part




by using GPS satellite signals instead of traditional radar to precisely track and guide aircraft.




ADS-B, expected to be




nearly 10 times more accurate than radar,




also will give pilots graphical weather information, terrain maps and flight information, FAA officials said during a conference call Aug. 30.

A pilot program for ADS-B has been deployed since 2000 in an area of Alaska where radar coverage is weak




. FAA officials said the system has accounted for a 40 percent drop in fatal accidents there.



Under the base contract, valued at $207 million, ITT of White Plains, N.Y., will design, develop and deploy an initial operational capability by 2010. The remaining $1.6 billion in contract options would be awarded over 15 years in two tranches, one for 2011 through 2018; the other for 2019 through 2025.

ITT will build a network of 794 ground stations across the country, according to John Kefaliotis, ITT’s director of business development for FAA and air traffic control programs. Some of the ground stations will be free-standing installations and others will be integrated into cellular towers maintained by AT&T, one of ITT’s partners.

The contract requires ITT to provide full U.S. coverage by 2013, the FAA said in a press release announcing the contract.

ITT’s proposal won because it




offered the highest value and least risk with no technical issues of concern, an FAA official said.



The FAA press release listed ITT’s partners on the project as:




AT&T; Thales North America; WSI Corp.; Science Applications International Corp.




; PriceWaterhouseCoopers; Aerospace Engineering; Sunhillo; Comsearch; Mission Critical Solutions; Pragmatics; Washington Consulting Group; Aviation Communications and Surveillance Systems; NCR Corp.;




L-3 Avionics Systems; and Sandia Aerospace.







HNS Seeks Arbitration in Dispute With Sea Launch






Hughes Network Systems (HNS) is asking the American Arbitration Association




to force Sea Launch Co. to refund $44.4 million in payments made before HNS decided to cancel its Sea Launch contract and use an Ariane 5 rocket to loft




the Spaceway 3 satellite.

Germantown, Md.-based HNS, in an Aug. 10 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), says the company was within its rights to cancel the contract because of launch delays following Sea Launch’s January 2007 failure. Spaceway 3 had been scheduled for a May launch on Sea Launch. It




successfully was launched Aug. 14 aboard an Ariane 5 vehicle.

Long Beach, Calif.-based Sea Launch argues that the failure-related delays in its schedule are covered by the launch agreement with HNS and cannot be used to terminate the contract unilaterally.

HNS said Sea Launch’s position represents a “breach of contract and a violation of the California statute prohibiting unlawful and unfair business practices.”







Covey To Take Reins at United Space Alliance



Richard Covey has been named president and chief executive officer of United Space Alliance, the company that helps operate and maintain NASA’s space shuttle fleet. He replaces




Michael Culley who is retiring.

Covey, a former NASA astronaut who has served as the Houston-based company’s chief operating officer since February 2006, co-chaired a task force that monitored NASA’s efforts to return the fleet




to flight following the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia Accident.

Daniel Brandenstein, vice president and program manager for Lockheed Martin Mission Services, will become chief operating officer




.

United Space Alliance is a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.









Investment in Eutelsat Paid off for Equity Firm





French private-equity investment firm Eurazeo said it earned an average of 59.6 percent annually on its four-year investment in satellite-fleet operator Eutelsat Communications of Paris before selling its 18.1 percent stake to France’s government-owned CDC savings institution this year.

In an Aug. 29 presentation of its financial results, Eurazeo said the value of its Eutelsat holding was multiplied by 2.39 times between 2003, when Eurazeo purchased its initial stake, and the February 2007 sale to CDC.

Eurazeo
was lead partner in groups called RedBirds Participations and BlueBirds 2




Participations, which together held a 25.5 percent equity stake in Eutelsat before the February sale.

Eurazeo
invested some 562 million euros ($769




million




) in Eutelsat in three tranches in 2003, 2004 and 2005.






Group Aims









To

Broker in Capacity on Hobbled Sats





A group of former satellite-industry officials has formed a new company whose business model is to sell cut-rate




capacity aboard damaged or aging




satellites owned




by the major




fleet operators




to create a new business for small thematic television channels.

The Green Satellite, based in Switzerland and headed by Francois Dubrulle, formerly of Alcatel, is raising funds in a bid to take unused and unwanted capacity off the hands of the major satellite owners, rebrand it and sell it at a much lower cost.

Dubrulle
said the business model is similar to what occurs in other industries including clothing and wine




, in which branded manufacturers sell their excess production to third parties that agree not to use the brand name and are free to sell for low prices.

Dubrulle
said Green Satellite is seeking to secure capacity on four to five




satellites that either are nearing retirement or have suffered in-orbit failures and whose capacity could be purchased inexpensively.




ATK Gets $681 Million Shuttle Motor Contract Modification




AlliantTechSystems (ATK) Launch Systems Group of Brigham City, Utah, received a contract modification valued at $681 million for continued delivery of space shuttle reusable solid-rocket motors, NASA announced Aug. 29.

The modification extends ATK’s current contract to ensure NASA has the solid-rocket boosters it needs to fly the 14 shuttle missions manifested between now the fleet’s planned September 2010 retirement to complete construction of the international space station.




Eutelsat, ViaSat Unveil New Broadband Venture



Satellite-fleet operator Eutelsat Communications of Paris and broadband satellite-terminal designer ViaSat Inc. of San Diego




announced Aug. 31 that a new consumer-broadband service called Tooway will debut in Germany in late September and in other European countries later this year.

ViaSat
will be providing terminals similar to the ones used in the United States by WildBlue Inc. The antenna is made in Britain, with other components built in Taiwan.

Eutelsat
and ViaSat intend Tooway as a Ka-band system similar to WildBlue. But because Eutelsat has only four Ka-band transponders on its mainly Ku-band Hot Bird 6 satellite at 13 degrees east, the two companies also are




offering Tooway service in Ku-band using Eutelsat’sEurobird 3 spacecraft.

Eutelsat
is soliciting bids from manufacturers for an all-Ka-band satellite that the company hopes to launch in 2010. The current Tooway marketing thus is




intended to pave the way for a much larger consumer offer with the new spacecraft.

Any users purchasing Tooway for use in Ku-band will need to change much of their equipment to be able to use Ka-band. The Ka-band rooftop Tooway antenna will be 67 centimeters in diameter, while the Ku-band antenna will be 96 centimeters in diameter, the two companies said.

Eutelsat
and ViaSat did not disclose prices, but said they would offer downlink speeds of up to 2 megabits per second and uplink at up to 384 kilobits per second. Maximum uplink speed in Ka-band will be higher, the companies said.








Boeing, Lockheed Martin Submit GPS 3 Proposals




Lockheed Martin Space Systems




of Denver, and Boeing Integrated Defense Systems




of St. Louis, submitted bids




Aug. 24 for the multibillion-dollar contract to build the next generation of U.S. Air Force GPS navigation satellites.



The initial GPS 3 contract includes the first block of eight satellites plus an option for four more, according to press releases issued by the companies Aug. 27.





The first block, known as GPS 3A, will




provide improved position-location, navigation and timing services for military and civilian use. The satellites, expected to start launching in 2013,




also will feature improved anti-jamming capabilities and system security and reliability. The first satellites are expected to launch in 2013.

The second and third blocks, GPS 3B and GPS 3C, will be successively more capable and consist of




eight and 16 satellites, respectively.

Lockheed has teamed with General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, of Gilbert, Ariz., which will provide the Network Communications Element; and ITT Corp.




, of White Plains, N.Y., which will provide the navigation payload. Boeing has not yet announced their partners.





Lockheed built the




GPS Block 2R satellites currently in orbit and has modernized eight of them




. Boeing is building




12 GPS 2F satellites that are expected to




begin launching in 2008.








Japan’s Akari Satellite Ends Most Observations













Japan’s Akari




sky surveyor satellite








ended all




observations at far- and mid-infrared wavelengths after exhausting its supply of liquid-helium coolant, the




Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency




(JAXA) said in an Aug. 28 press




release




.



The liquid helium, required to operate all but Akari’s weakest








infrared sensing capabilities, ran out Aug. 26, JAXA said.



Launched Feb. 21, 2006, aboard an M-5 rocket from Japan’s Uchinoura Space Center, Akari was able to complete its primary mission by creating an infrared map of 94 percent of the known universe.





Akari




has opened up new windows into the birth of stars and galaxies, the death of stars in supernovae, and supermassive black holes drawing in material from their surrounding galaxy,” Stephen Serjeant,




an Akari collaborator at Open University of Milton Keynes, England, said in a separate




press release issued Aug. 29 by the




Swindon
, England-based Science and Technology Facilities Council. “Also, Akari




will of course keep taking data at its shortest wavelengths, in the near-infrared just beyond the range of human eyesight.”







RRSat Taps Telstar 10 for Video Services in Asia





Satellite broadcast capacity reseller RRSat Global Communications Network of Israel will provide video distribution in Asia via




Loral Skynet’sTelstar 10 satellite under an agreement with Bedminster, N.J.-based Loral Skynet, RRSat announced Aug. 29.

Financial terms were not disclosed. Telstar 10, a hybrid C- and Ku-band satellite located at 76.5 degrees east longitude, provides coverage to most of Asia in C-band and to a more limited Asian region in Ku-band. RRSat said it would use the spacecraft capacity to distribute video content to more than 80 million cable households in 33 nations.





South African TV Provider Leases Capacity on Sesat-1





Pay-television operator Multichoice Africa of Johannesburg, South Africa, is leasing




four Ku-band transponders aboard the Sesat-1 satellite owned by Eutelsat Communications of Paris under a contract announced Aug. 30 by




Eutelsat.

The contract brings to 13 the total number of transponders that Multichoice, a subsidiary of MIH of the Netherlands, is using aboard Sesat-1 and Eutelsat’s W4 satellite, both of which are located at 36 degrees east longitude. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Multichoice’s
DStv television platform beams more than 100 television and radio channels to more than 450,000 households throughout sub-Saharan Africa.




Senior ISRO Official Dies, Another Hurt in Car Crash



Rajeev Lochan, scientific secretary to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), died Aug. 24 when the car in which he was a passenger collided with a truck, ISRO public relations officer B.R. Guruprasad said


Aug.




25.

S. Krishnamurthy, ISRO’s chief spokesman, was injured in the crash, which also killed the driver of the car.




Krishnamurthy suffered multiple injuries and is recovering in a hospital, Guruprasad said.



The accident




occurred as the officials were making their




way from Bangalore to ISRO’s launch complex in Sriharikota to oversee preparations for the launch of Insat-4CR communications satellite, which was




scheduled for Sept.




2




.









Canadian Gov’tTo Help Fund Rural Broadband Via Satellite








The Canadian government has agreed to finance 75 percent of an investment totaling 27.5 million Canadian dollars ($26.2 million) to provide satellite-delivered broadband links to several dozen rural villages in Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba, Canadian authorities announced Aug. 24.

The remaining 25 percent of




the program’s cost will be provided by satellite-fleet operator Telesat Canada, whose spacecraft will be used, and by the governments of Ontario and Quebec




.

The investment follows similar programs started in Canada’s Northwest Territories and in Nunavut.

Most of the money will be used to purchase two Ka-band transponders aboard Telesat Canada’s Anik F2 satellite for the remaining 11 years of the satellite’s service life. Anik F2




also is used for commercial broadband links in Canada, and




as part of WildBlue Inc.’s commercial broadband service in the United States.

The two transponders purchased under the program will be used to provide service not only to schools and government agencies, but also for individual use in the communities covered. Satellite Earth stations will be upgraded to facilitate the service, according to Infrastructure Canada.





Competition Narrows in Northrop Lunar Challenge



The playing field for the $2 million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge in October has tightened up, with the number of expected competitors dropping from nine to seven.

William Pomerantz, director of Space Projects for the X Prize Foundation in Washington, said Aug. 29 that the ninth team – which had been anonymous and now will remain so – has withdrawn from the competition.

Another team, Micro-Space of Denver, missed a required milestone, making them ineligible to win prize money in 2007, Pomerantz said. Nevertheless, Micro-Space plans to continue developing its lander and will attend the competition, he added.

The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge will be held


Oct. 27-28




as part of the Wirefly X Prize Cup at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.





DataPath Inc. To Provide Satellite Terminal Support



DataPath


Inc.




of Duluth Ga., will provide support services to




32 of its




Ku-band satellite communications terminals serving




U.S. Central Command in southwest Asia under a $7.8 million U.S. Army contract, according to an Aug. 27 company press release.

The company will provide 69 employees to handle operations and maintenance services for a six-month period. Additional six-month incremental options for the next three years could push the total contract value above $50 million, DataPath said.




Sega To Join Faculty of Colorado State University





Ronald Sega, who left his position as U.S. Air Force undersecretary Aug. 31, said Aug. 30 he will join the faculty of the Colorado State University in Fort Collins to teach




systems engineering with an emphasis on aerospace and energy.

Speaking to reporters for the last time as Air Force undersecretary, Sega said he




also will retain his connection with the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, where he is a tenured professor on a leave of absence.

Sega, a former Air Force pilot, NASA astronaut and director of defense research and engineering, had been the undersecretary since 2005. His legacy includes the so-called back-to-basics space acquisition strategy, centered on an incremental approach to satellite




development and deployment.





CSC-Raytheon Team Nabs Range Support Contract



A


joint venture




between Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC)




of Falls Church, Va., and Raytheon Technical Services Co.




of Reston, Va., nabbed




an $816.2 million




contract to continue providing launch range technical support at




Cape Canaveral Air Station, Fla.

The




10-year contract covers




operations and maintenance assistance for range and processing systems critical to the space launch mission. The base contract is for 10 months, with nine single-year contracts that may be optioned. The company declined to provide the values of the base contract and option.




The joint venture, dubbed Computer Sciences Raytheon, has been performing these services for the Air Force since 1988.




MEADS Operations Center Clears Early Design Review










The tactical operations center for the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS)




, a U.S.-European




regional missile defense program




, has passed its preliminary design review, according to an Aug. 14 press release from prime contractor MEADS International Inc.





The tactical operations center “contains the brains” of the system and relays commands to each component, including the launcher and sensor systems via encrypted radio




signals, Martin Coyne, business development director for MEADS International, said in an Aug. 23 phone interview.



Orlando, Fla.-based MEADS International is the primary contractor for the




joint U.S., German and Italian effort




to build a mobile, ground-based




system to destroy incoming short-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.



MEADS was established in September 2004 by the three governments;




the $3.4 billion contract for the current design and development phase was signed in May 2005.



The tactical operations center uses an open-architecture system that is compatible with U.S., German, Italian and NATO computer and communications systems




as well as legacy anti-missile systems. This will allow




operators to quickly adjust wiring for MEADS sensors and launchers




.







NASA Scientists Confirm






Rise in Tropical Rainfall






NASA scientists studying 27 years worth of data from satellites and ground-based sensors have verified




a long-term rise in the amount of tropical rainfall, according to an Aug. 27 NASA press release




.

The review, covering




data from 1979 to




2005,




found that




the wettest years




have occurred mainly




since 2001




. The most rain fell during




2005, followed by




2004, 2003, 2002 and 1998.

The study was published in the Aug. 1 issue of the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate.

“When we look at the whole planet over almost three decades, the total amount of rain falling has changed very little,” GuojunGu, the study’s primary author and a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space F




light Center, said in a prepared statement. “But in the tropics, where nearly two-thirds of all rain falls, there has been an increase of 5




percent.”

A




rise




in temperatures worldwide is the suspected culprit in the increased rainfall, Goddard researcher Robert Adler said in the release.




Gu
and




Adler now are trying to verify that theory.









Orbcomm

Launch Delay Irks U.S. Coast Guard





Orbcomm
is delaying the launch of seven additional first-generation satellites, including a demonstration model for the U.S. Coast Guard, as it sorts out launch-vehicle options, the company said.

The two-way satellite-messaging service provider said in an Aug. 14 submission to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it now expects the seven satellites to be launched in the next 12 months.

The Ft. Lee, N.J.-based company, which operates a fleet of 29 low-orbiting data communications satellites – a




30th satellite, launched in 1995, was retired in April – also has let slip a self-imposed deadline for selecting a contractor for 18 second-generation satellites.

Orbcomm
officials had said in May that a contract for the second-generation satellites would be signed in June.

The delay in the launch of the U.S. Coast Guard demonstration satellite, equipped with a system to facilitate identification of ships entering U.S. waters, continues to be a source of friction between Orbcomm and its




customer. Orbcomm said the Coast Guard had set a deadline of July 2 for the




launch




and now is




threatening to demand compensation for the delay.

Orbcomm
officials have said they may launch the Coast Guard satellite on the same vehicle carrying the final six first-generation satellites.




In its SEC filing, Orbcomm said it is continuing to negotiate with the Coast Guard on a launch date.





Meanwhile, Orbcomm said that as of June 30 the company had 278,000 billable subscriber terminals in service or about to enter service,




up from 225,000




Dec.




31. Because of delays in expected contracts, Orbcomm lowered its estimate of how many subscriber terminals it will sell and activate by the end of this year.

The new estimate – of between 350,000 and 375,000 – is around 5 percent lower than what the company had told investors to expect earlier this year.

“The company does not believe the reduction in guidance is due to lost opportunities, but rather related to delayed spending by end users,” Orbcomm said in an Aug. 14 statement on its financial results.

Orbcomm
reported revenue




of $12.6 million for the six months ending June 30, down slightly from sales in the same period a year earlier in part because of a large terminal contract with GE Asset Management in 2006 that boosted equipment sales revenue.

Service revenue for the six-month period increased by 65 percent, to $8.2 million,




compared to a year earlier.

Orbcomm
, which raised a net $32 million in a secondary stock offering in May, said it has enough cash to complete the construction and launch of its seven new satellites in the coming 12 months. The company did not issue an updated timetable for its second-generation constellation.





SES Astra Signs Deal With 2nd German Internet Firm





Satellite-operator SES Astra of Luxembourg has booked a




distribution agreement with a second German Internet service provider to deliver satellite broadband to German consumers




, SES Astra announced Aug. 28.

The contract of undisclosed






size with H3 Netservice, like a similar deal announced in March with telecommunications provider Filiago, calls for SES Astra to provide its




Astra2Connect Ku-band satellite capacity to deliver telephone, Internet and television services to these companies’ customers.

SES Astra said the German Ministry of Economy and Technology estimates that at least 2.9 million




German households do not have




broadband access.

SES Astra provides the satellite capacity on a wholesale basis to telecommunications carriers who then market the service to their customers.






MDA To Supply Gear for Three Telecom Satellites





Canada’s MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA)




will provide payload components for two telecommunications satellites being built by Astrium Satellites of Europe and one by Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif., under contracts announced Aug. 28.

Under the contracts, valued at 18 million Canadian dollars ($17.1 million), MDA will supply on




board payload electronics gear to Astrium for the Astra 3B satellite, to be owned by SES of Luxembourg, and for the Amazonas-2 spacecraft being built for Hispasat of Spain.

Similar gear will be supplied for








an unnamed satellite under construction at Space Systems/Loral.







SAIC To Support C4I Programs for U.S. Navy



Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) will




provide support for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) programs at




the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Systems Center in San Diego under a contract worth up to $473 million, according to an Aug. 16 SAIC press release




.

San Diego




-based SAIC




will provide the C4I programs with management, logistical and engineering support.

The indefinite-delivery,




indefinite-quantity contract consists of a one-year base with four separate one-year options and




could




total more than $473 million if all options are implemented.




SAIC spokesman Tom Hampton declined




Aug. 24 to provide further details of the contract.









ISRO Cites Progress on Lunar Orbiter Mission



The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has completed the critical design reviews of both the




spacecraft and instruments for the Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter, the agency told India’s parliament Aug. 16.





The




flight hardware is in an









advanced stage of realization,”




Prithviraj
Chavan, India’s minister of state, said in a written reply to questions from members of the parliament




. He said the mission is




scheduled for launch in the first half of 2008.

Meanwhile, commissioning work on ISRO’s




, deep space network, required to track the Chandrayaan-1,




is progressing satisfactorily near Bangalore, Chavan




said. The system’s




18-meter dish




antenna has successfully passed the tests and is ready for use, while the critical design review for a planned




38-meter antenna has been completed, he said.

Chandrayaan-1 will carry 11 instruments, five built by ISRO and six supplied by foreign partners. The satellite also will carry a 29-kilogram impact probe that will separate from the orbiter and crash into the lunar surface.











NOAA Deactivates its Oldest Weather Satellite



The




longest-operating U.S. polar-orbiting weather satellite, NOAA-12, was deactivated Aug. 10 after more than 15 years of service, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in an Aug. 28 press release.

When its solar-array shunts stopped working, the satellite became incapacitated, NOAA spokesman Jonathan Leslie said in an Aug. 30 e-mail message.

NOAA-12 was a third-generation




satellite responsible for monitoring




atmospheric and oceanic temperatures and other conditions and tracking climate phenomena like El Ni�o.

Launched May 14, 1991, NOAA-12 replaced NOAA-10 four months later. In turn, it was replaced with NOAA-15




in December 1998, but continued to transmit data on a limited basis until recently, Leslie said.







Boeing to Study Global Strike Missile Demo




The U.S. Air Force has awarded




Boeing Integrated Defense Systems of St. Louis an $8.9 million contract to study aspects of a conventional global strike missile demonstration, according to a company news release dated Aug. 27.

The study, which will wrap up in June 2009, is intended to refine requirements for a demonstration featuring a Minotaur rocket and payload platform designed to carry various conventional warheads that could strike at targets around the world within




an hour of




launch, according to the news release. The Minotaur rocket, which is built by Orbital Sciences of Dulles, Va., is based on




excess ICBM motors




.







New Military Comsats To Change Bandwidth Ratio



The U.S. military could




reduce its overall reliance on commercial satellite communications bandwidth by some 25 percent with the launch of new spacecraft over the




next several years, according to a senior U.S. Army official.

Lt. Gen. Kevin Campbell, commander of Army Space and Missile Defense Command, noted during a speech at the 10th Annual Space and Missile Defense Conference and Exhibition in Huntsville, Ala., on Aug. 16, that the military currently relies on commercial services for about 80 percent of its satellite communications needs.

That figure could drop to about 60 percent with the launch of the new military satellites, Campbell said. While he did not cite specific satellites, the U.S. Air Force plans to launch the first Wideband Global SatCom system spacecraft (previously known as Wideband Gapfiller) later this year, and expects to launch the first Advanced Extremely High Frequency secure communications spacecraft in 2008.




MKV Propulsion System Meets Early Test Goals



A key propulsion system for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV) recently passed an initial series of tests at the National Hover Test Facility at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., MKV prime contractor Lockheed Martin said in an Aug. 27 press release.

The MKV is designed to deploy several tiny kill vehicles to independently destroy multiple objects released by a single missile. This shotgun approach is intended primarily to thwart the effectiveness of decoys, a countermeasure against missile defenses.





The testing




demonstrated that the MKV carrier vehicle’s divert and attitude control system,




built by Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif., met performance objectives established by the Missile Defense Agency, according to the news release.





Northrop, Boeing to Design Competing Laser Pointers



Northrop Grumman Space Technology of Redondo Beach, Calif., announced Aug. 28 that it will design a pointing system for a proposed anti-artillery laser under a one-year contract with the U.S. Army. Boeing Integrated Defense Systems announced a similar contract July 23.

Both companies will develop separate designs for a rugged beam control system for the High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator (HEL TD). The solid-state laser would be truck-mounted and would destroy incoming artillery shells.

The one-year base values of the Northrop Grumman and Boeing design contracts are $8 million and $7 million, respectively. Both have options that could bring new value to $50 million over three years




if the Army decides to fully develop the HEL TD.





Boeing’s relevant experience




includes its lead role on the Airborne Laser system, which is intended to destroy ballistic missiles in their boost phase, as well as the Advanced Tactical Laser, which is intended to be installed on aircraft to destroy a variety of targets on the battlefield, according to the company’s news release




. The Airborne Laser features a chemical laser built by Northrop Grumman.

Northrop Grumman worked on the Tactical High Energy Laser




, which was similar to the HEL TD concept, but featured a chemical laser. The Army canceled that effort in 2005.

Dan Wildt, director for Northrop Grumman’s Directed Energy Systems unit, said in a statement that the company




“has uniquely demonstrated the ground-based, high-energy laser weapon system and mission domain knowledge required by the Army to execute this program efficiently.”