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November 8, 2006
For Immediate Release

Media Contacts

Kristi Marren (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory)

Michael Kleiman (Air Force Research Laboratory)

APL Awarded Air Force Space-Sensor Contract

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), in Laurel, Md., has been awarded a contract for initial design work on the Lightweight Electro-Optical Space Sensor (LEOSS) program, managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.

During this phase of the contract, an APL-led team will study the use of lightweight, electro-optical technology and data products for searching, acquiring, tracking and characterizing resident space objects. The LEOSS program will serve as a pathfinder for future Department of Defense geosynchronous space situational awareness sensors.

APL is designing the experiment, developing system requirements and managing risk-reduction efforts. Teaming with APL, SSG Precision Optronics, of Wilmington, Mass., will design — and possibly build in a later phase of the project — the optical system, sensors and electronics for large- and small-aperture telescopes.

"APL's LEOSS project expands our support to the Air Force and the nation in the critical domain of space situational awareness," says Mr. Greg Orndorff, business development director for APL's National Security Space programs. "With LEOSS, we will continue to apply our extensive expertise in developing, fielding and operating systems to optimize military utility of the LEOSS design." APL built and operates the Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) satellite — Air Force Space Command's only space-based surveillance asset — now in its 11th year of operation.

"LEOSS would be one of the largest telescopes ever built by APL," says Tim Herder, APL's LEOSS program manager. "It would be much more sensitive than MSX, and able to see things in greater detail."

In approximately three months, the team will present its proposed system requirements to the Air Force, and in five months, its proposed design. Future phases of the project could include developing the LEOSS instrument and conducting a flight experiment.

APL's Space Department conducts space science and engineering for both civilian and military customers. APL has successfully designed and built 64 spacecraft and more than 150 instruments, developing hardware and software for missions of varying complexities within tight schedules and budgets.

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The Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) is a not for profit laboratory and division of the Johns Hopkins University. APL conducts research and development primarily for national security and for nondefense projects of national and global significance. APL is located midway between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., in Laurel, Md.