NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center awarded a contract modification to L-3 Communications Integrated Systems of Waco, Texas, for further developmental engineering on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).

SOFIA, a highly modified Boeing 747SP jetliner equipped with a German-built 2.5-meter telescope, is undergoing flight tests in preparation for a so-called first light flight tentatively scheduled for spring 2010.

The $8.7 million contract modification NASA announced Sept. 8 brings the total value of the cost-plus contract awarded to L-3 in February 2007 to $37.7 million and extends the period of performance through the end of this year. Two additional one-year options yet to be exercised could extend the agreement through Dec. 31, 2011.

Under the base contract, L-3 is responsible for completing development and testing of the SOFIA airborne system. The newly exercised contract option covers completion of SOFIA subsystems, including the mission control and communication system. The option also includes engineering and flight test support for the telescope cavity door-open flight tests and early science flight programs.