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Orbital Sciences Grabs $135 Million NASA ICESat-2 Contract

By | September 2, 2011
      [Satellite TODAY Insider 09-02-11] Satellite and rocket manufacturer Orbital Sciences has been contracted by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) to design, build and test its Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) Earth science satellite, NASA announced Sept. 1.
          The $135 million contract will see Orbital Sciences construct the satellite based on its LEOStar-3 platform, which is the same platform that Orbital is using for NASA’s Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) spacecraft. ICESat-2 will replace NASA’s original ICESat satellite, which operated from 2003 to 2010. 
          “Our selection by Goddard Space Flight Center to design, build and test the
      ICESat-2 spacecraft adds to our extensive and growing history of producing high-quality and reliable satellites for NASA’s Earth and space science programs. The ICESat-2 program will be a welcome addition to our NASA activities at the company’s Gilbert, Arizona facility, which currently includes work on the LDCM satellite and on national security satellites,” Orbital Sciences Space Systems Vice President and General Manager Mike Larkin said in a statement.
          After its scheduled launch in 2016, NASA’s ICESat-2 will use precision laser-ranging techniques to measure the topography of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and the thickness of sea ice. The U.S. National Research Council recommended the mission in a decadal survey of NASA Earth science research priorities that was published in 2007.
      “ICESat-2 supports NASA’s Earth science program by helping scientists develop a better scientific understanding of the Earth system and its response to natural or human-induced changes,” NASA said in the contract announcement.
         Orbital Sciences is currently in production on three science satellites for NASA at its Dulles, Va. campus. The company is building NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO), and Gravity and Extreme Magnetism Small Explorer (GEMS) spacecraft. Orbital also is preparing its Taurus 2 rocket for its upcoming NASA COTS demonstration.
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