NASA has awarded Southern Research a five-year, $10 million contract renewal to continue to support a video imaging system used on the space agency’s WB-57 research aircraft.
The Airborne Imaging and Recording System is attached to the WB-57 nose cap and designed to process full motion videos of rockets that ascend into space at a distance of more than 25 miles, Southern Research said Monday.
The Birmingham, Alabama-based nonprofit was awarded an initial $28.5 million sole source contract by NASA in 2011 to support the high-altitude research program.
The agency first used the AIRS technology to monitor the STS-114 Return to Flight mission in 2005.
According to Southern Research, the system also worked to observe various NASA and the Defense Department spacecraft launches and re-entries as well as commercial SpaceX launches.
NASA’s AIRS-equipped WB-57 fleet has supported atmospheric research, mapping and remote sensing operations and high-altitude training for astronauts, the nonprofit added.
The WB-57, which is derived from the B-57 bomber model, can soar more than 60,000 feet at a speed of 410 knots.