by Robert Sanders
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and Berkeley's Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Astrophysics have forged a partnership that for the first time would transfer day-to-day operations of one of NASA's satellites to a university. NASA/Goddard and Berkeley signed a cooperative agreement Aug. 21 to transfer responsibility for the Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer observatory's flight operations from Goddard to the Center for EUV Astrophysics.
Goddard has been working with the center for the past year to enable the transfer, which is expected to be complete in early 1997.
The partnership would continue to foster space science -- the principal mission of the satellite since its launch in 1992 -- but also to emphasize aerospace training, educational outreach and technology innovation.
This agreement builds on the partnership established by Goddard and Berkeley and marks the first time that NASA has used an innovative non-contract vehicle to implement mission flight operations.
Goddard has conducted explorer mission flight operations since the satellite's launch in conjunction with the former Loral Corporation -- now Lockheed Martin.
"I want to congratulate the Berkeley and Goddard teams for their outstanding efforts in a partnership to forge an innovative cooperative agreement and begin the implementation of the EUVE extended mission operations in the university environment," said Joe Rothenberg, director of the Goddard Space Flight Center.
"This marks the first time existing mission operations have been transferred from Goddard to a university.
"We look forward to the use of innovative approaches to operations which hold the promise of reduced costs and educational outreach in the extended use of the very successful EUVE mission.
"This partnership begins a new era of mission operations which builds on the strengths of both institutions."
The Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer has already completed its primary mission and is in "extended" operation collecting scientific data in one of the last "windows" on space, the extreme ultraviolet.
This shift of responsibility for flight operations will enable NASA to refocus the Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer mission from purely scientific research to one that will take greater advantage of Berkeley's rich research and educational environment for greater space science and technology engineering training and educational outreach.
The shift of spacecraft operations to Berkeley will provide engineering, computer science and physics undergraduates with more opportunities for applying their course work to the exciting fields of spacecraft operations and space astrophysics.
The Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Astrophysics, directed by research astronomer Roger Malina, is home to the scientists and staff who designed and built EUVE's scientific payload.
Goddard was NASA's first space flight center and is its primary Earth and space science research center.