NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., has chosen the Lockheed Martin Corporation and TRW to perform its spacecraft accommodation study for the Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) Observatory. This premier space-science experiment, scheduled for a 2006 launch into a low-earth orbit, will bridge the fields of astronomy and particle physics in the study of black hole particle jets and other high-energy phenomena.

The two contractors, working independently, will each receive $600,000 to develop an optimal design for a spacecraft to house GLAST’s two main instruments, the Large Area Telescope (LAT) and the GLAST Burst Monitor (GBM).

“Much of the gamma-ray universe remains a mystery to us,” said Dr. Alan Bunner, director of NASA’s Structure and Evolution of the Universe space science theme. “NASA’s Compton Observatory gave us a taste of this fascinating world aglow in gamma-ray radiation. Now, GLAST will contribute greatly to our understanding of enigmatic gamma-ray bursts and other phenomena that we cannot yet identify.”

The six-month spacecraft accommodation study will conclude with a written report from both contractors and a presentation before the Non-Advocacy Review (NAR) Board, which is the GLAST Project’s gateway to the implementation phase of the program.

After completion of the Lockheed Martin and TRW accommodation studies, the GLAST Project at NASA Goddard will review the results and factor them in to the GLAST spacecraft concept, which is captured in a spacecraft specification document. This specification will be the basis for a Request For Offer (RFO) to elicit proposals from the aerospace industry to build the GLAST spacecraft, about a year from now.

“Both TRW and Lockheed Martin were selected for this accommodation study based on the strength of their proposals,” said Scott Lambros, GLAST Project Manager. “We have worked well with both companies in the past in defining the GLAST spacecraft, and look forward to equally satisfying partnerships on this study. The results of this study will enable us to continue development of the instrument to spacecraft interfaces, and should put us in a strong position at the time of the NAR.”

GLAST is an international collaboration of government agencies and academic institutions from the United States, France, Germany, Japan, Italy and Sweden. The LAT is a joint project with NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy; and it will be constructed by Stanford University, the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, the University of California, Santa Cruz, the Naval Research Laboratory, NASA Goddard, and the international partners.

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, along with the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Germany will build the GBM. The overall mission management resides at NASA Goddard.