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August 13, 2014

Northrop Grumman to provide navigation system for Solar Probe Plus satellite

The Solar Probe Plus, with solar panels folded into the shadows of its protective shield, gathers data on its approach to the Sun.

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif.- Northrop Grumman has been awarded a contract from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory to supply its space inertial reference system for NASA’s Solar Probe Plus program.

Under a nearly $3 million contract, Northrop Grumman will provide its Scalable Space Inertial Reference Unit (Scalable SIRU ô) for the Solar Probe Plus mission, which APL manages for NASA. By supplying critical rotation rate data that enable the stabilization, pointing and attitude control of satellites and space vehicles, the Scalable SIRU ô will play a vital role in the Solar Probe Plus spacecraft’s unprecedented mission to fly through and examine the sun’s atmosphere. The Scalable SIRU ô delivery is expected in May 2016.

Expected to launch in 2018, Solar Probe Plus will explore the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, for the first time. The spacecraft will employ a combination of in-situ measurements and imaging to understand why the sun’s outer atmosphere is much hotter than the sun’s visible surface, and what accelerates the solar wind that affects Earth and our solar system.

“Our Scalable SIRU ô was competitively selected for the Solar Probe Plus mission because of its unparalleled performance, accuracy and reliability,” said Bob Mehltretter, vice president, Navigation and Positioning Systems, Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems. “The system is equipped with redundant components that meet the strict, high performance requirements of the anticipated seven-year mission.”

The Scalable SIRU ô is the industry standard for high-precision, long-life attitude control solutions supporting commercial, government and civil space missions. Northrop Grumman’s Scalable SIRU ô has proven its performance during numerous space missions, including NASA’s MESSENGER mission to orbit Mercury and the Global Precipitation Measurement mission. At the heart of the Scalable SIRU ô is Northrop Grumman’s patented hemispherical resonator gyro, which has been used in space without a mission failure for more than 28 million operating hours.




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