Orbital Sciences Corp. said Friday it has won a contract that could exceed $200 million over the next seven years to launch scientific satellites for NASA.
The contract will mean job stability but no additional job openings for workers at the company’s Chandler-based Launch Systems Group, Orbital spokesman Barry Beneski said.
"This is an extension of work we have done for about 15 years," he said. "It continues to provides jobs and revenue for the company."
Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Sciences employs more than 1,000 people in Chandler, where the company performs engineering and light manufacturing work on its launch rockets.
Under the new contract, Orbital will use Pegasus and Taurus vehicles to launch unmanned NASA space missions to 2012. The company estimates it will need to provide six or seven rockets for NASA small-satellite missions during that time, although an exact schedule has not been determined.
Missions covered under the new contract will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.; Kennedy Space Center, Fla.; Wallops Flight Facility, Va.; and the Reagan Test Site at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
"We are very pleased that we were selected by NASA for this important space launch services contract," said Orbital chairman David W. Thompson. "Pegasus and Taurus rockets continue to be the vehicles of choice for NASA’s upcoming small-satellite scientific missions. . . ."
Such missions will study the universe or to look back at Earth for environmental monitoring and other purposes.
The Pegasus is a threestage expendable rocket carried about 40,000 feet aloft under a modified Lockheed L-1011 jumbo jet. The rocket is fired after being released from the aircraft and sends its payload into space in about 10 minutes.
The Taurus is basically the same as the Pegasus except that a large fourth stage is added, allowing the vehicle to launch larger satellites from the ground.
Under past contracts, Orbital has launched or is planning to launch 29 NASA satellites and other payloads using Pegasus and Taurus. The rockets also are used for military launches.
In a separate development, the company said its Columbia, Md.-based Transportation Management Systems division has completed installation of a Vehicle Management System for the Phoenix Transit Department to control Valley Metro buses, vans and other vehicles.
The $19 million program, which started in 2002, includes in-vehicle hardware and control-center software to track the fleet.
The technology also provides automatic passenger counting, next-stop announcements and bus arrival information at some stops.