AIAA Designated Space Park Facilities A Historic Aerospace Site


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AIAA Designated Space Park Facilities A Historic Aerospace Site

By Daniel Baxter

December 16, 2011 - In a ceremony on Wednesday, the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics (AIAA) designated Northrop Grumman Corporation's Space Park facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif., a Historic Aerospace Site. 

Space Park opened in 1961, originally housing Space Technology Laboratories, a subsidiary of the Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation. The company became part of TRW Inc. in 1963. In 2002, Northrop Grumman purchased TRW, and the site now is a key part of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. 

AIAA established the Historic Aerospace Site designation in 1999 to recognize and preserve noteworthy and significant contributions made in aeronautics and astronautics.

In honoring Space Park, the AIAA recognized the site's heritage as a location where more than 100 of the world's most technically challenging satellites, rocket engines, astronomical observatories and high-power lasers were designed and built, and noted its employees' penchant for solving difficult problems and developing breakthrough programs.

"Space Park is where 'firsts' happen, and it's most gratifying that AIAA has recognized and honored our history of innovation," said Jeff Grant, sector vice president and general manager, Northrop Grumman Space Systems. "From our development of Pioneer 10, the first spacecraft to leave the solar system, to the Defense Support Program satellites, America's first line of missile defense, our reputation is well earned." 

In addition to Pioneer 10 and the Defense Support Program, Space Park has been the birthplace of achievements of great significance for space exploration and national security, including: 

- The descent engine for the Apollo Lunar Excursion Module that lowered U.S. astronauts to the moon's surface and brought the Apollo 13 astronauts safely back to Earth after a spacecraft equipment malfunction.  

- Six of NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System satellites, called the backbone of NASA's space-to-ground communications for Earth-orbiting space shuttles and satellites.  

- Development of the first intercontinental ballistic missiles, including Atlas, Titan, and most recently Minuteman.  

- The instrument packages that performed the Martian biological experiments searching for life aboard the two Viking landers.  


Today, Space Park employs more than 7,000 people working on a new generation of space systems on the cutting edge of technology. Current programs either on-orbit or still undergoing integration and test include: 

- The Aura and Aqua Earth Observing System satellites that are helping scientists understand the causes and effects of global climate change.  

- NASA astronomy spacecraft such as the Chandra X-ray observatory, which was deployed from a space shuttle in 1999 and continues to shed new light on black holes and dark matter.  

- The James Webb Space Telescope, NASA's next-generation space telescope.  

- The Space Tracking & Surveillance System demonstration satellites that are showing the advantages the high ground of space brings to missile defense through the revolutionary use of infrared sensors.  

- Anti-jam military satellite communications through payloads for the Milstar and Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellites.  

- All of the U.S. military's most powerful (megawatt-class) lasers that have unequivocally proven the lethality of defense at the speed of light. 

Many of these missions were enhanced by highly advanced semiconductors designed and produced at Space Park in the Simon Ramo Microelectronics Center, a Department of Defense Trusted Foundry. The integrated circuits produced there allow the company's satellites to see farther, listen better and last longer.

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