updated 5/9/2011 11:47:44 AM ET 2011-05-09T15:47:44

CARPINTERIA, Calif., May 9, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Astro Aerospace, a strategic business unit of Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC), has delivered its fourth deployable AstroMesh reflector to Astrium in Toulouse, France, this one for the Alphasat I-XL spacecraft that will provide commercial, broadband telecommunications services to Europe, Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia.

AstroMesh reflector (a)
Technical staff at Astro Aerospace in Carpinteria, Calif., work on the AstroMesh reflector recently delivered to Astrium for its Alphasat I-XL spacecraft. This photo shows the reflector in its deployed configuration. (Northrop Grumman Photo)

AstroMesh reflector (b)
Technical staff at Astro Aerospace in Carpinteria, Calif., work on the AstroMesh reflector recently delivered to Astrium for its Alphasat I-XL spacecraft. This photo shows the reflector in its stowed configuration. (Northrop Grumman Photo)

Photos accompanying this release are available at: http://media.globenewswire.com/noc/mediagallery.html?pkgid=9659

The 11-meter reflector is the latest in a line of successful AstroMesh deployable, large aperture reflectors developed and built by Astro Aerospace. The company has supplied three nine-meter deployable reflectors to Astrium for the Inmarsat-4 satellites since 2004.

"We are proud to once again participate as a key member of an Inmarsat/Astrium industry team," said Chris Yamada, general manager of strategic business units at Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "Our AstroMesh reflector systems are employed by premium telecommunication service providers and satellite prime contractors who value mission performance and reliability." 

Built by Astrium as prime contractor and scheduled for delivery in 2012, Alphasat I-XL will carry both a commercial payload for Inmarsat and technology demonstration payloads for the European Space Agency. The spacecraft is based on the high-power Alphabus platform, jointly developed by Astrium and Thales Alenia Space, for which it will be the first flight. Alphasat will join the Inmarsat-4 constellation providing worldwide coverage as part of Inmarsat's satellite-based Broadband Global Area Network. 

"Congratulations to the members of the entire Astro Aerospace reflector team for their hard work, dedication and commitment to quality, which has made our product line the most advanced and reliable deployable reflectors available," Yamada said. "AstroMesh is the only deployable mesh reflector on the market today with a 100 percent on-orbit deployment success – no failures, incidents or anomalies."

When deployed in space, the Alphasat reflector forms a precision 45 x 38 foot (14 x 11 meter) radio frequency reflective antenna surface, which stows for launch into a compact package weighing about 135 pounds (61 Kg). Including launch support and deployment boom hardware, the total system weighs only 246 pounds (112 Kg).

The reflector is a key part of the antenna system used by the spacecraft to provide broadband Internet communications.  Enabled by the large reflector, the antenna system's sensitivity allows the use of mobile, laptop-size modems by users around the world.

Once the Alphasat satellite reaches orbit, ground controllers issue commands that control three hinge motors that unfold a 19 foot (6 meter) boom supporting the reflector above the satellite. Additional ground commands are sent to two motors that unfurl the reflector to its fully deployed size.

For 50 years, Astro Aerospace has pioneered the technology of space deployable structures and mechanisms, including AstroMesh reflectors. All of the company's hardware has a perfect on-orbit deployment success rate on hundreds of space flight missions.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.  Please visit www.northropgrumman.com for more information.   

CONTACT: Bob Bishop
         (310) 812-5227 office
         (310) 251-0261 cell

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