EDWARDS AFB, Calif. – NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center has awarded a contract to L-3 Communications Integrated Systems, L.P., of Waco, Texas, for continued developmental and engineering work on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).

The cost-plus-award-fee contract could be worth up to $26 million over a five-year period if all options are exercised. The contract takes effect Feb. 9, 2007, with a 23-month base period extending through Dec. 31, 2008. Three one-year option periods could extend the agreement from Jan. 1, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2011.

The tasks that remain for completion of the SOFIA airborne observatory platform involve two major parts, the Airborne System and the Cavity Door Drive System. L-3 Communications will be responsible for completing development and testing of the Airborne System, including modification, fabrication, installation, integration, and verification of various systems to meet SOFIA mission requirements. In addition, L-3 is also tasked with providing engineering support and technical representation to NASA as necessary to support transition from development to operations.

The SOFIA program includes a high-altitude airborne observatory consisting of a 2.5-meter (100 inch) infrared telescope mounted in a cavity in the rear fuselage of a highly modified Boeing 747SP jetliner. Scientific instruments mounted in the observatory will be capable of celestial observations ranging from visible light through the sub-millimeter far-infrared spectrum. SOFIA is being developed jointly by NASA and the Deutsches Zentrum fuer Luft und Raumfahrt (German Aerospace Center).

For more details on SOFIA and its mission o the Web, visit: www.sofia.usra.edu