NASA has awarded a contract to Team Encounter, LLC for a
unique space science mission. NASA will send the agency’s
first space science technology demonstration experiment into
space aboard a commercial mission managed by a private

Based in Houston, Team Encounter will fly NASA’s Inertial
Stellar Compass (ISC) Technology Experiment on the company’s
mission to test solar sail technology in space. Team Encounter
will mount NASA’s hardware on their spacecraft, integrate and
test the system before launch. After launch in the 2004/2005
timeframe, NASA will receive about 30 days of data from the
ISC experiment from Team Encounter. The total value of the
award is approximately $6.5 million.

The innovative stellar inertial attitude determination system,
designed and built by Charles Stark Draper Laboratory in
Cambridge, Mass., is one of two technologies selected as part
of NASA’s New Millennium Program technology experiment known
as Space Technology-6 (ST-6).

The ISC is representative of the next generation of highly
integrated low power, low mass spacecraft avionics required
for many of NASA’s future space and Earth science missions. In
typical spacecraft systems, gyroscopes and star cameras
separately monitor and control the flight of the spacecraft in
space. The ISC combines an advanced active pixel sensor star
camera with micro-electromechanical system gyros in a small,
low mass, low power unit. The mass, power and space savings
translates into the ability to build smaller, lighter
spacecraft, which would need smaller, less costly, launch

“This award is an opportunity for NASA to work closely with
commercial industry in a mutually beneficial venture,” said
Chuck Gay, NASA Program Executive for the New Millennium
program at NASA Headquarters, Washington. “It’s an effective
way to get our technology experiments validated in space at a
reasonable cost.”

The New Millennium Program was created in 1994 to identify,
develop and flight-validate advanced technologies that can
lower costs and enable critical performance of science
missions in the 21st century.

More information about NASA and the New Millennium is
available on the Internet at: