USRA will help develop airborne observatory

MARYLAND WATCH

December 18, 1996

The Universities Space Research Association, a nonprofit corporation based in Columbia, will lead a team of industries and researchers in a $484.2 million contract to develop and operate an airborne infrared observatory.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration awarded the 10-year contract for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA.

USRA is a 28-year-old organization linking the space science and technological research efforts of 80 institutions, including two in Canada and one each in England and Israel.

The group runs several research institutes for NASA, including the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, and the Center of Excellence in Space Data and Information Sciences at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.

United Airlines will provide a Boeing 747-SP for the project and will manage flight operations out of Moffett Federal Airfield near San Francisco.

Raytheon-E Systems of Waco, Texas, will modify the plane to carry the 8-foot-diameter infrared telescope, which will be used to study radiation from planets, stars and galaxies.

Pub Date: 12/18/96

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