Universal Space Network, Inc. (USN) will provide on-orbit support services — telemetry, tracking and control, plus data collection — to Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE:ORB) for its upcoming Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (QuikTOMS) satellite mission for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. This mission contract was awarded by Orbital to USN as part of a long-term marketing agreement between the two companies.

The QuikTOMS mission will utilize an instrument called a total ozone mapping spectrometer, or TOMS, to measure the ozone levels in the Earth’s atmosphere. The QuikTOMS satellite will be launched aboard Orbital’s Taurus rocket as a secondary payload. The QuikTOMS mission is the second attempt to get this particular version of the TOMS instrument into orbit and to begin collecting data. An earlier TOMS instrument failed to make orbit last year, necessitating a "quik" replacement. The mission is expected to provide data for three years that will help researchers understand a number of environmental issues, including the global warming.

"USN’s ground stations in Alaska and Hawaii will be utilized for this polar orbiting mission," said Tom Ingersoll, president and chief executive officer of USN. In addition to on-orbit services, USN will also utilize its Network Simulator for a variety of tasks including performing pre-launch ground tests on the satellite, practicing maneuvers and developing the spacecraft’s telemetry, tracking, and control, as well as data transmission systems. The Network Simulator will test the overall integration of the spacecraft, including mission operations and operational procedure testing.

"Through the use of our Network Simulator, NASA engineers will be able to detect and resolve communications issues with their spacecraft prior to launch," Ingersoll said. "This will help ensure that their mission runs as problem-free as possible and garners credible results."

Founded by aerospace pioneer and astronaut Charles "Pete" Conrad, Jr., Universal Space Network, Inc. (www.uspacenetwork.com) has built a multi-user, commercial satellite tracking ground station network. The mission of USN is to provide cost-effective satellite management and data services. USN provides its services to earth-orbiting assets, including scientific research, Earth study and global communications spacecraft. USN currently owns and operates ground tracking stations in Hawaii, Alaska and Perth, Australia, and provides additional stations through collaborative partners in Maryland, Sweden, Chile and South Africa.

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