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By | June 2, 2008

      Boeing Bids For Space Situational Awareness Contract

      The Boeing Co. [BA] submitted a bid for the Air Force Self-Awareness Space Situational Awareness (SASSA) contract.

      The program, valued at approximately $30 million, will demonstrate a system that detects threats to U.S. space assets using instruments hosted on satellites. A contract award is expected later this year.

      SASSA and other threat detection and warning systems are needed, critically, because potential enemies are gaining anti-satellite capabilities, imperiling U.S. and allied military and civilian space assets.

      For example, China in January last year employed a ground-based missile to obliterate one of its own aging weather satellites, an act that many nations condemned as colossally irresponsible because it created thousands of pieces of dangerous space debris that to this day imperil satellites and spacecraft in orbit.

      Further, China used a ground-based laser to blind a U.S. military satellite.

      Military analysts predict that if China invades Taiwan, as it has said it will if Taiwan doesn’t submit to rule by Beijing, one of the first steps China would take would be to attack U.S. military satellites, including perhaps GPS satellites, in an attempt to blind American forces just as the invasion begins. Cyber attacks on U.S. military, Federal Reserve, banking, retail-commercial and other computer systems also might be launched.

      Many Pentagon leaders have said in the face of this threat, it is vital for U.S. forces to have space situational awareness, so as to perceive, swiftly, any sudden threat to satellites or spacecraft.

      How an anti-satellite threat would be countered hasn’t yet been decided. At this point, the Missile Defense Agency has no mandate to take out enemy anti-satellite missiles in flight. But the first step must be to detect such threats.

      Which is where SASSA would help.

      "Boeing’s solution provides a low-risk approach that offers full mission capability," said Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager for Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems. "We are combining our space experience and understanding of the mission with our hardware and software expertise to support the Air Force in demonstrating the technologies necessary for an operational, common-threat warning system."

      As part of Boeing’s commitment to the program, the company completed a demonstration of its system’s compatibility with a host vehicle and with multiple threat-warning instruments. The success of the demonstration confirmed Boeing is providing a high level of technology readiness and — coupled with the company’s extensive experience as a provider of government satellites and hosted payloads — ensures Boeing’s solution will meet current and future requirements, according to the company.

      Not only could SASSA detect threats such as enemy anti-satellite attacks, it also could perceive problems such as a satellite out of position, or a micrometeoroid on course to collide with and damage a satellite, a Boeing spokesman said.

      Boeing makes many of the satellites that would be watched over by a space situational awareness program.

      The company makes geostationary satellites with designs that support mobile communications, weather forecasting, global positioning and military communications. The company, which recently marked 2,500 years of accumulated on-orbit satellite service, built one-third of all satellites operating today.

      NASA Awards Contract To Decontaminate Plum Brook Reactor In Ohio

      NASA awarded a $33.5 million contract to Clauss Construction of Lakeside, Calif., to complete decontamination and preparation for a final status survey of the Plum Brook Reactor Facility in Sandusky, Ohio.

      It is managed by the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

      Clauss will perform decontamination and radiation protection activities. This will include the safe packaging, shipment and disposal of all on-site low-level radioactive waste and contaminated soil existing at the time of contract award and generated during the contract performance period.

      This cost-plus-fixed-fee contract performance period runs for 30 months from the contract start.

      NASA Awards Up-To $153 Million Contract For Work At Marshall

      NASA chose EG&G Technical Services Inc. of Gaithersburg, Md., to provide facility operations and maintenance services at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

      The contract begins July 1, with a one-year base period, followed by four one-year options. It is a firm-fixed price contract with an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity portion. The maximum potential value of this contract is approximately $153 million.

      EG&G Technical Services Inc. will perform facilities operations and maintenance services for Marshall. The company will furnish resources, including management, personnel, equipment and supplies to support Marshall work.

      Orbital, In Deal With Thales Alenia, To Supply Koreasat 6 Satellite

      Orbital Sciences Corp. [ORB] signed a contract with Thales Alenia Space of France to supply a STAR satellite platform for the Koreasat 6 commercial communications satellite.

      The satellite will be built for KT Corp. of the Republic of Korea.

      Orbital will carry out final spacecraft, payload and system integration and testing.

      Spacecraft engineering, manufacturing, integration and test activities will occur at Orbital’s satellite manufacturing facility located in Dulles, Va.

      Thales Alenia Space will act as prime contractor for the project, provide the communications payload and deliver the Koreasat 6 satellite to KT.

      At its final orbital slot at 116 degrees East Longitude, the Koreasat 6 satellite will carry 30 active Ku-Band channels that provide direct broadcast services and fixed satellite services to the people of Korea.

      The STAR-2 platform will support 3.4 kilowatts of payload power and will have a 15-year on-orbit mission life. Koreasat 6 is scheduled to be delivered and launched in mid- to late-2010.

      The Koreasat 6 spacecraft is the second to be purchased this year that uses the Orbital STAR platform. Earlier this year, the company announced a follow-on order from SES Americom for its fourth STAR satellite purchased in the last two years. With the Koreasat 6 contract award, Orbital currently has 10 commercial communications satellites in various stages of design and production for launches between 2008 and 2010.

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