Montage of our solar system

Ten new industry and university partners have joined NASA's New Millennium program to test spaceflight technologies never before flown for future space missions. The new partners will contribute members to be involved in all aspects of the program, from identifying and developing key technologies to analyzing science data returned by each mission.

The goal of the New Millennium program is to lower the costs and risks for future space missions by developing and validating advanced technologies. In keeping with NASA's philosophy of "faster, better and cheaper," the program will pair NASA with the nation's vast industrial and academic resources. The new partners, representing all segments of the technology community, were chosen from 50 proposals after a seven-week review process.

"Innovative management techniques and teaming methods are part of the new ways of doing business in implementing the nation's science and technology goals," said Kane Casani, manager of the program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "It has been very encouraging to see the widespread interest in our program. We hope that the response to our solicitations to join in this exciting venture continues at this level.

"These new members will join other team members who were chosen a year and half ago," Casani continued, "and who have already been working to develop technologies and roadmaps to provide the performance and capabilities required by future spacecraft."

The six integrated product development teams will cover specific spaceflight technology areas -- autonomy, communications, in-situ instruments and microelectromechanical systems, instrument technologies and architecture, modular and multifunctional systems, and microelectronics.

NASA's vision of science exploration for the 21st century involves frequently launched, more reliable and capable small spacecraft to explore the solar system, observe the Earth and create a "virtual" human presence in the universe.

New Millennium is designed to test advanced technologies, science instruments and operations systems through a series of spaceflight missions launched every 12-18 months, with deep space missions to begin in 1998, and Earth-orbiting missions to start in 1999.

The first two deep space missions are well into their implementation phases. The first, Deep Space 1 (DS1), will fly by an asteroid, Mars, and a comet and will demonstrate solar electric propulsion, an autonomous operations system and other advanced technologies. Deep Space 2 (DS2) will transport two microprobes, each weighing 2.5 kilograms (5.5 pounds), aboard the Mars 1998 lander to analyze soil, search for ice and demonstrate technologies that will enable network science for future missions. Earth-Orbiting 1 (EO1) consists of an advanced land- imaging instrument to be infused into the future Landsat-type satellites and to return the enhanced science data at reduced cost.

"New team members will integrate their efforts into the existing technology roadmaps to identify and select technologies for the next set of deep space and Earth orbiting validation missions now on the NASA drawing boards," said Bob Metzger, business operations manager for New Millennium.

In identifying appropriate technologies, the teams will also recommend those that will improve the country's technological and industrial infrastructure and strengthen its competitive edge in the global commercial marketplace.

The New Millennium Program is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Offices of Space Science and Mission to Planet Earth, Washington D.C.

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