Press Release

Northrop Grumman-NASA LCROSS Team Awarded Popular Mechanics 2010 Breakthrough Award

By SpaceRef Editor
October 6, 2010
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Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. team members who built NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) yesterday received Popular Mechanics magazine’s 2010 Breakthrough Award for superior innovation. The award presentation took place during ceremonies in Hearst Tower in New York City.

The award is presented annually to recognize and promote advances that will improve lives and expand human horizons. The LCROSS team was cited for their work on NASA’s LCROSS mission. “[They] are part of a group that is collectively developing new medical tools, advancing research into alternative energy, addressing poverty in the developing world, and opening new fields in aviation, communications, astronomy and more,” according to James B. Meigs, editor in chief of Popular Mechanics, a unit of the Hearst Corporation.

“We are honored to win this award,” said Steve Hixson, vice president of Advanced Concepts – Space and Directed Energy Systems for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “It is a significant acknowledgement of the high caliber of our engineering skills and our close partnership with NASA’s Ames Research Center, which developed the LCROSS payload and conducted mission operations. It also validates our ability to build small, inexpensive spacecraft with high science value very quickly, awakening the industry and the nation to the viability of this mission class.”

Northrop Grumman worked closely with NASA Ames to use sophisticated management processes that enabled it to design, fabricate, test and make the LCROSS spacecraft available for launch in just 27 months for $57 million. The LCROSS spacecraft was built using an off-the-shelf structure called the evolved expendable launch vehicle (EELV) Secondary Payload Adaptor (ESPA ring) and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) sensors and components.

LCROSS was launched along with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in June 2009 to enable NASA to search for water ice on the moon. LCROSS successfully concluded its mission when it impacted the Cabeus crater near the moon’s south pole on Oct. 9, 2009. Scientists confirmed the presence of water ice as well as several other compounds. Scientists are currently studying the data collected during and after the impact in an effort to uncover additional details about the moon’s history, especially in permanently-shadowed regions.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide. Please visit for more information.

SpaceRef staff editor.