NASA awarded the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) the contract to manage the James Webb Space Telescope Science and Operations Control Center. AURA is a non-profit consortium of educational institutions formed to operate astronomical observatories.
The contract is for products and services required to prepare the science program; develop ground systems; provide science and engineering support; provide integration and test support; perform educational and public outreach; perform flight and science operations during the launch and commissioning of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
AURA will manage the Science & Operations Control Center at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. The total estimated contract value is $162.2 million. This procurement will result in a cost-plus-fixed-fee type contract. The period of the contract is from now through launch, plus one year.
The JWST is scheduled for launch in 2011 aboard an expendable launch vehicle. It will take about three months for the spacecraft to reach its destination. The JWST will reach an orbit approximately 1.5 million kilometers (940,000 miles) in space, called the second Lagrange Point (L2), where the spacecraft is balanced between the gravity of the sun and the Earth.
To see deep into space, the JWST will carry instruments sensitive to the infrared wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. The new telescope will carry a near-infrared camera, a multi-object spectrometer and a mid-infrared camera/spectrometer. Infrared capabilities are required to help astronomers understand how galaxies first emerged after the rapid expansion and cooling of the universe, a few hundred million years after the big bang.
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., manages the JWST for the Office of Space Science, NASA Headquarters, Washington. The program has industry, academic and governmental partners, including the European and Canadian Space Agencies.
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