Space Agency (ESA) scientists will rely on a key navigational
aid from Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Navigations
Systems Division (NSD) when it launches its Herschel Space
Observatory into orbit four years from now to study how
the first stars and galaxies were formed.

Dutch Space B.V. has selected NSD to provide its scalable
space inertial reference unit (SIRU) for the ESA Herschel
Space Observatory. This is the first time the scalable SIRU
will be used on an ESA satellite. SIRUs supply velocity
and angle information to the satellite attitude control
system of the satellite.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“Our scalable SIRU was selected for its inherent precision
performance and high reliability, which is central to this
type of space-based mission,” said Alexis Livanos, vice
president and general manager of Northrop Grumman NSD. “This
key win will help position the company for other space-related
navigation systems opportunities in the European marketplace.”

Herschel is a program led by a consortium of European companies,
including prime contractor Alcatel Space S.A.S., service
module subcontractor Alenia Spazio S.p.A. and Dutch Space
B.V., the latter being the attitude control monitoring system
contractor for the program.

“This win culminates a cooperative effort with Dutch Space,
ESA, Alcatel Space and Alenia Spazio, leading to the successful
completion of their joint technical evaluation and product
assurance audit of our scalable SIRU,” said Ron Tanabe,
director of Space Systems at Northrop Grumman NSD. “The
heart of the SIRU product line is our proprietary hemispherical
resonator gyro, which has no mechanical parts to wear out.”

The contract provides for two scalable SIRUs for the flight
satellite and the spare satellite and an optional SIRU for
a third satellite.

The Herschel Space Observatory uses an imaging space telescope
with a primary mirror 3.5 meters in diameter. During its
six-year mission, it will use both the full far-infrared
and submillimeter bandwidths of light to determine how the
first stars and galaxies formed. It is scheduled to be launched
in early 2007 by an Ariane 5 launcher from Kourou, French

The Northrop Grumman SIRU product family has logged more
than three million gyro operating hours on more than 40
operating systems. The scalable SIRU is designed and space
qualified for natural and deep space missions. It offers
redundant three-axis continuous attitude reference for missions
up to 15 years in length.

Based in Woodland Hills, Northrop Grumman’s Navigation Systems
Division provides situational awareness for the defense
and commercial markets. It offers integrated avionics, inertial
navigation and guidance systems, satellite electronics,
identification friend-or-foe systems, smart displays, fiber-optic
sensors and systems and logistic support products and services.

The Navigation Systems Division is part of the company’s
Baltimore, Md.-based Electronic Systems sector, a world
leader in the design, development and manufacture of defense
and commercial electronics and systems including airborne
radar, navigation systems, electronic countermeasures, precision
weapons, airspace management systems, communications systems,
space systems, marine and naval systems, government systems
and logistics services.

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