UC Berkeley awards commercial contract for CHIPS space mission to SpaceDev of Poway, Calif.

By SpaceDev, Inc.

BERKELEY-- SpaceDev, Inc., the world's first commercial space exploration and development company, announced Nov. 2 that it has been selected by the Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL) at the University of California, Berkeley, to design, build, integrate, test and operate a microspacecraft that will conduct a one-year astronomy mission in low Earth orbit.

"This contract will represent a very important and gratifying milestone in SpaceDev's growth. It is expected to generate a predictable stream of revenue totaling approximately $5 million over the course of the next two and a half years and move us toward our goal of achieving positive earnings," stated SpaceDev Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Benson.

The company's business model lends itself to achieving substantial revenue growth and market-share dominance in the rapidly evolving commercial space industry, estimated to be a $105 billion market and growing at an estimated rate of 10% per year, according to industry sources.

While other companies supplying space-exploration systems historically have focused on larger and more capital-intensive, government-driven projects, SpaceDev's business model focuses on commercial microspacecraft solutions, which the company believes to be a highly under-penetrated and profitable niche. The company intends to realize revenues from the design, manufacture, launching and operation of small spacecraft for a wide variety of institutions, corporations and agencies requiring a cost-effective alternative to traditionally high-cost space missions.

Commenting on this major SpaceDev achievement, Benson stated, "CHIPSat represents a critical milestone in our corporate development as an integrated supplier of microspacecraft mission solutions. We are excited that Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory has made this vote of confidence in our ability to assist them in this first UNEX project. We are pursuing a number of other microspacecraft opportunities for a variety of potential clients and anticipate announcing additional contracts in coming months."

Benson further added, "Over the past two years we have initiated a number of strategic initiatives to position SpaceDev to be one of a very few companies capable of meeting the growing demand for fast, effective and sophisticated small-spacecraft mission solutions. Through the acquisition of Integrated Space Systems, Space Innovations Limited and hybrid rocket technology produced by the former American Rocket Company (AMROC), we have assembled a world-class team that together is able to create more value for our clients than they can expect from dealing with separate contractors would as separate contractors."

"SpaceDev took our top-level science requirements and designed us an extraordinarily capable small spacecraft at an affordable price," said Dr. Mark Hurwitz at SSL, Principal Investigator for CHIPS and the overall CHIPSat Mission Manager. "We were very impressed with SpaceDev's attention to detail and their rapid response to our questions and concerns. The deep experience of many of their key engineers gave us confidence that they can deliver what they promise on schedule and within budget. We look forward to working with SpaceDev as a fully integrated member of the mission team," he added.

CHIPSat is the first mission of NASA's low-cost University-Class Explorer (UNEX) series to be approved for the implementation phase. SpaceDev's Space Missions Division plans to begin the CHIPSat project immediately under a commercial, fixed-price contract with UCB. Initial integration and testing of the spacecraft's components are planned at the company's headquarters in Poway, California about a year later.

The 85-kg microspacecraft will carry one science instrument, the Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer, or CHIPS. Launch is expected in early 2002, followed by one year of mission operations. CHIPS facilitates the observation and diagnosis of the astrophysical environment in the void outside our solar system and between the nearby stars in our galaxy.

Dr. Hurwitz's team was recently granted authorization to enter the implementation phase (Phase B) of the project following a successful project review held on August 31 by a team led by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, home of the University Class Projects Office. UNEX is one of several series of lower cost space missions in NASA's Explorers Program.


Established in 1997, SpaceDev ( is the world's first commercial space exploration and development company. SpaceDev's corporate offices, its wholly owned subsidiary Integrated Space Systems (ISS) and the company's Space Missions Division are located in Poway, CA. The company's other wholly owned subsidiary, Space Innovations Limited (SIL), is located in Newbury, England.

Besides Earth-orbiting missions such as CHIPSat, SpaceDev is offering lunar orbiters, Mars probe carriers and derivatives of its Near Earth Asteroid Prospector (NEAP) mission for sale as turn-key commercial products. Such commercial deep-space missions are a first for the industry.

Space Dynamics Laboratory

Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) conducts cutting edge research in remote-sensing and in situ measurement systems. Although emphasis is placed on space-based infrared applications, the mission also includes ground station development and fusion of sensing data in all spectral bands. Historically, the primary research thrust has been in cryogenically cooled infrared instruments and their associated calibration systems.

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