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USRA to Support NASA’s Airborne Astronomical Observatory Under Potential $514M Contract

Universities Space Research Association has secured a potential 18-year, $514 million hybrid contract from NASA to provide science and mission operations support for the space agency’s airborne astronomical observatory.

NASA said Saturday the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy program support contract has a 60-day phase-in period, five base years, six two-year options and an additional one-year shutdown/close-out option.

SOFIA, a joint program of NASA and its German counterpart, is a modified version of Boeing‘s (NYSE: BA) 747SP aircraft equipped with a 100-inch-diameter telescope.

The observatory is designed to observe the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum to aid research efforts in the areas of astronomy, astrophysics and planetary astronomy.

NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center oversees the flight operations and maintenance of the SOFIA aircraft while the agency’s Ames Research Center manages program and science operations of the airborne observatory.

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