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CTA to Provide First Earth System Science Pathfinder Spacecraft

ROCKVILLE, Md., March 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Ric de Bastos, president of CTA Space and Telecommunications (CTAST), today announced that CTAST has been selected by the University of Maryland and NASA as the spacecraft industrial partner for the first Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) mission, the Vegetation Canopy Lidar (VCL). VCL will be launched by the year 2000 to characterize the three-dimensional structure of the Earth, both vegetation and global biomass and the topographic height of the Earth's surface.

CTAST, whose facilities are located in McLean, Va., has developed more than 30 small spacecraft for government and commercial customers. CTAST will design and build the VCL spacecraft bus and integrate the multibeam LIDAR instrument. The spacecraft bus is based on two CTAST spacecraft, the commercial EarlyBird remote sensing satellite and NASA's SSTI Clark technology demonstration satellite. In meeting the need for a low cost, high performance spacecraft CTAST used the existing EarlyBird design. Its performance was enhanced by VCL by using state-of-the-art technologies from SSTI Clark, including the attitude control system and other components. CTAST's extensive experience with low cost spacecraft and short program schedules results in a very low risk spacecraft bus for the VCL mission.

The spacecraft with instrument will weigh 290 kg (638 lbs.) at launch and includes enough fuel to maintain its 400 km (249 mi.) altitude orbit for more than two years. The spacecraft is powered by a 3.1 square meter (33.4 square feet) solar array consisting of two deployed wings, which produce more than 350 watts of power. Each wing is steered to keep it pointed toward the sun while the spacecraft points the instrument toward the Earth. The spacecraft collects instrument data and stores it in a solid-state recorder; the data is delivered each day to a ground station via a high speed data link. The spacecraft operates autonomously from command loads sent twice a week.

CTA Space and Telecommunications Company (CTAST) is a subsidiary of CTA INCORPORATED, a company of more than 1,200 employees and 1996 revenue of $180 million. CTA Space and Telecommunications Company is a world leader in manufacturing small satellite systems. CTAST has built and launched 27 lightsats, and currently has seven more in production or test with imaging, telecommunications and research payloads. The company provides spacecraft system design, hardware, software, test, and flight operations support to Goddard Space Flight Center's Small Explorer Program, Space Shuttle Small Payloads Project and Spartan Shuttle Missions. CTA also builds satellite command and control ground systems, meteorological satellite data ingest systems, airborne and air-dropped remote sensor systems, and communications systems.

 -0- 3/25/97

/CONTACT: Dave Johnson of CTA, 301-816-1477/

CO: CTA Space and Telecommunications ST: Maryland IN: ARO TLS SU:

JN-JA -- DCTU012 -- 7026 03/25/97 14:06 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 25, 1997
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