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NASA/TRW/Smithsonian Chandra X-ray Observatory Team Extends ``Honors List'' with 2000 AIAA Space Systems Award.

Business Editors & Aerospace/Defense Writers

REDONDO BEACH, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 11, 2000

A team of scientists and engineers from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., TRW (NYSE:TRW), and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), Cambridge, Mass., has been selected by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) to receive the organization's 2000 Space Systems Award for successfully developing, producing, launching and operating NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, the world's most capable X-ray observatory.

The award, presented annually by the AIAA to recognize outstanding achievements in the architecture, analysis, design and implementation of space systems, marks the seventh time that the Chandra project has been honored for its engineering or scientific feats since the observatory became operational in August 1999 -- just one month after launch.

The Chandra team will receive its award formally on Sept. 20 at an awards luncheon held during the AIAA Space 2000 Conference and Exposition in Long Beach, Calif. Dr. Martin C. Weisskopf, NASA's Chandra Project Scientist, will accept the award on behalf of the team.

"This award is a tribute to the vision, engineering talents and dedication to mission success of every member of this extraordinary Chandra team," said Timothy W. Hannemann, executive vice president and general manager, TRW Space & Electronics Group, NASA's Chandra prime contractor.

"Chandra has fundamentally changed the way we look at the universe," said Weisskopf. "Its powerful X-ray eyes have allowed us to see in vivid, spectacular detail a variety of celestial X-ray phenomena whose mere existence we could only hypothesize before. Chandra has truly taught us to expect the unexpected."

Since producing its first X-ray images in August 1999, Chandra has provided astronomers with a startling, new look at the high-energy universe of supernova remnants, pulsars, black holes and clouds of multimillion-degree gas that comprise clusters of galaxies.

Among its most significant achievements to date are the discovery of a giant ring around the heart of the Crab Pulsar in the Crab Nebula -- the remains of a stellar explosion; details of the shock wave created by an exploding star; the discovery of the first X-ray flare ever seen from a brown dwarf star; and resolution of the universe's high-energy X-ray "glow" into millions of specific light sources.

Chandra's advanced engineering features and its contributions to X-ray astronomy have also earned it widespread recognition among consumer and aerospace trade publications. To date, it has received a number of prestigious awards, including one of Popular Science magazine's 1999 "Best of What's New" awards, a 1999 Laurels Award from Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine, a 2000 Rotary National Stellar Award for Space Achievement, and the Editor's Choice Award in the 2000 Discover magazine's Awards for Technological Innovation.

Chandra was also awarded the 2000 George Washington Project of the Year Award by the Los Angeles Council of Engineers and Scientists.

Launched aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in July 1999, Chandra features the world's most powerful X-ray telescope and a suite of high-resolution imaging and spectroscopy instruments. The telescope's array of exquisitely polished and aligned mirrors allows scientists to gather X-rays from celestial sources billions of light years away, revealing cosmic phenomena not visible to conventional optical telescopes.

The TRW-led contractor team that designed and built Chandra included Eastman Kodak, which built the X-ray telescope; Raytheon, which produced the X-ray mirrors; and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., which built the integrated science instrument module and Chandra's aspect camera.

Chandra's science instruments were provided by the SAO, Penn State University, MIT, Space Research Organization of the Netherlands and the Max Planck Institute in Germany. SAO conducts the Chandra science mission for NASA while TRW heads up the Chandra flight operations team at the Chandra Operations Control Center, Cambridge, Mass.

TRW has been designing and producing spacecraft systems for NASA's most challenging space science missions for more than 40 years. In addition to Chandra, the company is currently developing designs and technologies for several of NASA's future space astronomy missions, including the Next Generation Space Telescope, the Space Interferometry Mission and Terrestrial Planet Finder, all part of NASA's Origins program; Constellation-X, the successor mission to Chandra; and the Gamma Ray Large Area Space Telescope, the follow-on mission to the TRW-built Compton Gamma Ray Observatory.

With headquarters in Cleveland, TRW Inc. provides advanced technology products and services for the global automotive, aerospace, telecommunications and information systems markets. TRW news releases are available on the Internet at www.trw.com.

Note to Editors: For the latest images and information about the Chandra mission, visit www.chandra.nasa.gov.
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Date:Sep 11, 2000
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