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ABQ tech firm wins $500M NASA contract

ATA Aerospace in Albuquerque won a five-year contract this month worth up to $505 million with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to provide payload integration services for satellites.

“It’s by far our biggest contract to date,” said ATA Aerospace managing member Anthony Tenorio. “It’s a huge win for us and something we’ve been chasing for quite awhile.”

ATA Aerospace is a joint venture between Applied Technology Associates in Albuquerque and Maryland-based ASRC Federal Space and Defense.

The partners will provide a range of research and development services under the contract — an indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity arrangement worth a minimum of $5 million and up to $505 million. That includes mechanical engineering and related services, such as design, development and fabrication of hardware and software systems, as well as testing, verification and operation  of spaceflight and ground systems.

“We’ll do the mechanical integration for satellites being developed at the Goddard NASA center,” Tenorio said. “We’re contracted to integrate all the components and payloads into the satellites.”

That includes the James Webb Space Telescope, a new satellite that NASA will launch in 2018 to replace the Hubble Space Telescope.

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“That’s one of many satellites that we’ll do payload integration for,” Tenorio said.

Applied Technology Associates, which formed ATA Aerospace in 2007 as a joint venture with ASRC, is a homegrown, high-tech engineering firm housed at a 41,000-square-foot facility at the Sandia Science and Technology Park in Albuquerque. The company, which launched in 1975, specializes in precision measurement, sensing and control technology. It provides services and products primarily for the defense and aerospace industries. It provides critical support, for example, for research and development in directed energy and satellite operations at the Air Force research laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base.

Tenorio has headed ATA since the 1980s. He helped oversee the launch and growth of ATA Aerospace in 2007, when  the joint venture won its first $100 million contract with the Air Force Research Laboratory, a contract that was renewed for another $100 million in 2013.

The joint venture has also provided engineering services to NASA in the past, with Applied Technology Associates supplying critical hardware and ASRC focusing on software for space systems. That includes custom-made platform stabilization tools built by Applied Technology Associates to enable near- and deep-space laser communications.

Applied Technology Associates is a long-time member of the annual Flying 40 list of fast-growing technology companies in New Mexico. It reported $47 million in revenue in 2014, and employed about 220 people.

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