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Johns Hopkins Physics Lab Gains Space Sensor Design Contract

By | November 13, 2006

      The Air Force gave The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) a contract for initial design work on the Lightweight Electro-Optical Space Sensor (LEOSS) program.

      During this phase of the contract, an APL-led team will study the use of lightweight, electro-optical technology and data products for searching, acquiring, tracking and characterizing resident space objects.

      The LEOSS program will serve as a pathfinder for future Department of Defense geosynchronous space situational awareness sensors.

      APL is designing the experiment, developing system requirements and managing risk-reduction efforts.

      Teaming with APL, SSG Precision Optronics, of Wilmington, Mass., a unit of L-3 Communications [LLL] will design — and possibly build in a later phase of the project — the optical system, sensors and electronics for large- and small-aperture telescopes.

      “APL’s LEOSS project expands our support to the Air Force and the nation in the critical domain of space situational awareness,” says Greg Orndorff, business development director for APL’s National Security Space programs.

      “With LEOSS, we will continue to apply our extensive expertise in developing, fielding and operating systems to optimize military utility of the LEOSS design.”

      APL built and operates the Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) satellite – the sole Air Force Space Command space-based surveillance asset — now in its 10th year of operation.

      “LEOSS would be one of the largest telescopes ever built by APL,” says Tim Herder, APL’s LEOSS program manager. “It would be much more sensitive than MSX, and able to see things in greater detail.”

      In approximately three months, the team will present its proposed system requirements to the Air Force, and in five months, its proposed design. Future phases of the project could include developing the LEOSS instrument and conducting a flight experiment.

      The contract for APL is managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.

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