TULLAHOMA – The University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI) Aviation Systems Program received a NASA award, totaling a maximum of $10 million over the next two years, to provide flight and engineering support for the conduct of airborne science missions. UTSI was one of seven of NASA’s new Aircraft Catalog Blanket Purchase Agreements awarded this month.
This award will fund aircraft platforms to accommodate light and heavy-lift instrumentation payloads on fixed wing platforms. U.S. government and non-U.S. government customers will provide the instrumentation payloads. Depending on the particular payload and science mission, NASA may request additional services for engineering, fabrication and installation.
To qualify for these awards, an organization must meet rigorous NASA standards in many flight research related areas, including aircraft maintenance, flight operations, engineering expertise, experiment integration capabilities and flight safety. All of the aviation systems teams including faculty, staff and several graduate students contributed to the development of the successful proposal submitted to NASA.
The award was also favorably influenced by the program’s successful completion of the Marshall Airborne Polarimetric Imaging Radiometer airborne science mission for the NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center, which NASA considered to be one of the best contractor flight research operations that they have seen.
The catalog of airborne platforms is managed by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility, and the airborne science missions are conducted at various locations within and occasionally outside the United States.