Press Release

NASA/TRW/Smithsonian Chandra X-ray Observatory Team Extends “Honors List” with 2000 AIAA Space Systems Award

By SpaceRef Editor
September 11, 2000
Filed under

A team of
scientists and engineers from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center,
Huntsville, Ala., TRW , and the Smithsonian Astrophysical
Observatory (SAO), Cambridge, Mass., has been selected by the American
Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) to receive the
organization’s 2000 Space Systems Award for successfully developing,
producing, launching and operating NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory,
the world’s most capable X-ray observatory.

The award, presented annually by the AIAA to recognize outstanding
achievements in the architecture, analysis, design and implementation
of space systems, marks the seventh time that the Chandra project has
been honored for its engineering or scientific feats since the
observatory became operational in August 1999 — just one month after

The Chandra team will receive its award formally on Sept. 20 at an
awards luncheon held during the AIAA Space 2000 Conference and
Exposition in Long Beach, Calif. Dr. Martin C. Weisskopf, NASA’s
Chandra Project Scientist, will accept the award on behalf of the

“This award is a tribute to the vision, engineering talents and
dedication to mission success of every member of this extraordinary
Chandra team,” said Timothy W. Hannemann, executive vice president and
general manager, TRW Space & Electronics Group, NASA’s Chandra prime

“Chandra has fundamentally changed the way we look at the
universe,” said Weisskopf. “Its powerful X-ray eyes have allowed us to
see in vivid, spectacular detail a variety of celestial X-ray
phenomena whose mere existence we could only hypothesize before.
Chandra has truly taught us to expect the unexpected.”

Since producing its first X-ray images in August 1999, Chandra has
provided astronomers with a startling, new look at the high-energy
universe of supernova remnants, pulsars, black holes and clouds of
multimillion-degree gas that comprise clusters of galaxies.

Among its most significant achievements to date are the discovery
of a giant ring around the heart of the Crab Pulsar in the Crab Nebula
— the remains of a stellar explosion; details of the shock wave
created by an exploding star; the discovery of the first X-ray flare
ever seen from a brown dwarf star; and resolution of the universe’s
high-energy X-ray “glow” into millions of specific light sources.

Chandra’s advanced engineering features and its contributions to
X-ray astronomy have also earned it widespread recognition among
consumer and aerospace trade publications. To date, it has received a
number of prestigious awards, including one of Popular Science
magazine’s 1999 “Best of What’s New” awards, a 1999 Laurels Award from
Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine, a 2000 Rotary National
Stellar Award for Space Achievement, and the Editor’s Choice Award in
the 2000 Discover magazine’s Awards for Technological Innovation.

Chandra was also awarded the 2000 George Washington Project of the
Year Award by the Los Angeles Council of Engineers and Scientists.

Launched aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in July 1999, Chandra
features the world’s most powerful X-ray telescope and a suite of
high-resolution imaging and spectroscopy instruments. The telescope’s
array of exquisitely polished and aligned mirrors allows scientists to
gather X-rays from celestial sources billions of light years away,
revealing cosmic phenomena not visible to conventional optical

The TRW-led contractor team that designed and built Chandra
included Eastman Kodak, which built the X-ray telescope; Raytheon,
which produced the X-ray mirrors; and Ball Aerospace & Technologies
Corp., which built the integrated science instrument module and
Chandra’s aspect camera.

Chandra’s science instruments were provided by the SAO, Penn State
University, MIT, Space Research Organization of the Netherlands and
the Max Planck Institute in Germany. SAO conducts the Chandra science
mission for NASA while TRW heads up the Chandra flight operations team
at the Chandra Operations Control Center, Cambridge, Mass.

TRW has been designing and producing spacecraft systems for NASA’s
most challenging space science missions for more than 40 years. In
addition to Chandra, the company is currently developing designs and
technologies for several of NASA’s future space astronomy missions,
including the Next Generation Space Telescope, the Space
Interferometry Mission and Terrestrial Planet Finder, all part of
NASA’s Origins program; Constellation-X, the successor mission to
Chandra; and the Gamma Ray Large Area Space Telescope, the follow-on
mission to the TRW-built Compton Gamma Ray Observatory.

With headquarters in Cleveland, TRW Inc. provides advanced
technology products and services for the global automotive, aerospace,
telecommunications and information systems markets. TRW news releases
are available on the Internet at

Note to Editors: For the latest images and information about the
Chandra mission, visit

SpaceRef staff editor.