Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Space Data Awarded $49 Million Air Force Contract For Near Space Communications System

Space Data Corporation of Arizona was awarded a five-year $49 million contract by the U.S. Air Force Space Command Space & Missile Systems Center's Development and Test Wing to provide a near space communications system.

"Near space" is defined as 65,000 to 135,000 feet (19,812m to 41,148m) above the earth--higher than airplanes fly, but lower than satellites.

Space Data said the Air Force Space Battlelab has carried out extensive testing of its system over the past two years. The tests included using the same tactical radios carried by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The results showed that ground-to-ground voice and data communications could be extended from 10 miles to over 400 miles using Space Data's balloon-borne payloads.

Space Data technology also improved communications between troops on the ground and pilots flying air support.

The Space Data system utilizes a balloon-borne platform that takes advantage of the very predictable winds in near space to position communications equipment 20 miles above the earth. The GPS-equipped platforms can be launched from the back of a Humvee, for example, and once at altitude provide excellent communications over thousands of square miles.

Space Data has offered a commercial version of its technology to the energy industry for more than two years. This "SkySite" system operates over the South-central and Southwestern United States and allows energy firms to monitor and control equipment remotely.


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