Montage of our solar system

Twenty-three industry and university partners across the country, representing all sectors of the U.S. technological community, have been selected to team with NASA in the New Millennium Program. This bold new technology effort aims to develop and demonstrate breakthrough technologies for low-cost space science missions of the 21st century.

The 23 organizations will participate in four of the five Integrated Product Development Teams in the New Millennium Program, following a swift two-month review process that winnowed more than 230 proposals originally submitted to NASA.

"These teams will lead in the development and delivery of selected advanced technologies in four primary spaceflight development areas: autonomy, communications, microelectronics and modular architectures and multifunctional systems," said Kane Casani, manager of the program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "With this dynamic, synergistic partnership, we are striving to introduce revolutionary technologies, spacecraft designs and operations concepts," he said, "to bring about a transformation in the way we explore the solar system and study Earth from space in the next century."

Selection of industry, academic and nonprofit research organization members for the fifth Integrated Product Development Team -- focusing on science instruments and micro, electro and mechanical systems -- will be announced in late July.

The New Millennium Program is focused on development and validation in space of advanced technologies needed for a fleet of small spacecraft that will explore the solar system, monitor Earth and observe the cosmos. Constellations or networks of spacecraft, carrying instruments sometimes as small as a dime, will be designed to study phenomena occurring in Earth's atmosphere, oceans and land masses, as well as astronomical events in the solar system and beyond.

The Integrated Product Development Teams will play a multifaceted role in the New Millennium Program. They will be involved in all aspects of the program, from technology development through science data processing. In identifying advanced technologies appropriate for demonstration on New Millennium flights, the teams will recommend technologies that should also sharpen the country's competitive edge in the commercial marketplace.

The proposals under review for inclusion in the New Millennium Program cover a wide range of imaginative technologies that will enable NASA to launch focused space and Earth science missions as often as once a month by early in the next century, Casani said. All were aimed at reducing total mission costs and improving the scientific benefits of Earth and space science missions now on the drawing boards at NASA.

The program is designed to validate these advanced technologies and operations techniques through a series of actual spaceflight missions. Among the most popular mission concepts now under consideration is a flight that includes a flyby of either a comet or asteroid. This flight would provide an opportunity to demonstrate a solar electric propulsion system, which is much smaller in mass compared to traditional chemical propulsion systems. Other mission concepts include Earth-observing networks and constellations, and a microlander that would be destined for Mars or other planets.

These missions would demonstrate prototypes of highly sophisticated instruments designed to achieve specific scientific goals. Another concept in review, for instance, is a free-flying interferometer, an optical science instrument that combines light from several telescopes flying in formation with each other into one unified image. The mission would demonstrate the technologies and operating techniques for subsequent missions that should be able to detect and characterize planets around other stars.

NASA plans to select three demonstration missions developed by the New Millennium Program teams and announce those mission selections by the end of the summer. The first experimental mission will fly in late 1997 or early 1998, with the remaining missions to follow at approximately one-year intervals through 2000.

Working on the New Millennium Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory with Kane Casani is Dr. Barbara Wilson, deputy manager of the program, and Dr. Ellen Stofan, program scientist.

The New Millennium Program is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Offices of Space Science, Space Access and Technology and Office of Mission to Planet Earth, Washington, D.C. [Note to Editors: A list of industry partners and academic institutions teaming with NASA in the New Millennium Program follows.]


Lockheed Martin Corporation, Valley Forge, Pa.

Boeing Co., Seattle, Wash.

Loral, Palo Alto, Calif.

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

TRW, Redondo Beach, Calif.


Lockheed Martin Corporation, Palo Alto, Calif.

TRW, Redondo Beach, Calif.

Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Hughes Danbury Optical Systems, Danbury, Conn.

OCA Applied Optics, Garden Grove, Calif.

Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.

Microcosm, Inc., Torrance, Calif.


Lockheed Martin Corporation, East Windsor, N.J.

Loral, Palo Alto, Calif.

TRW, Redondo Beach, Calif.

Honeywell, Clearwater, Fla.

Space Computer Co., Santa Monica, Calif.

University of California at San Diego

Optivision, Palo Alto, Calif.

University of Southern California, Los Angeles


Lockheed Martin Corporation, Denver, Colo.

L'Garde, Inc., Tustin, Calif.

Olin Aerospace Company, Redmond, WA.

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