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Harris Corporation Audio Systems Headed to Space Station On Final Shuttle Flight; Company’s Equipment Onboard Every Shuttle Mission
Posted on Wednesday, July 6, 2011



  • Harris systems and mission payloads have been onboard every space shuttle, beginning with Columbia’s maiden flight in 1981.
  • Space Coast-headquartered Harris has supported NASA programs for half a century.
  • Harris has advanced technology developed for NASA and applied it today’s satellites.


MELBOURNE, FL, July 5, 2011 — Advanced audio systems developed by Harris Corporation (NYSE:HRS) will head to the International Space Station (ISS) when Atlantis blasts off for the last time on July 8, marking the final launch of the historic shuttle program. Technology from Harris has been onboard every space shuttle since the program began 30 years ago, either providing direct mission support via onboard computers and electronics, or as part of the spacecraft’s payload.

The audio terminal units and controllers flying on Atlantis will become part of the ISS Audio/Video Distribution System (AVDS). The AVDS provides audio communications among individual crewmembers in the station as well as with teammates on Earth, docked spacecraft, and crewmembers engaged in extravehicular activity, such as spacewalks. It also distributes video signals from various cameras to monitors within the Space Station or for transmission to Earth.

Harris also designed and built equipment for the Hubble Space Telescope, including electronics that point the telescope and move mirrors instrumental in sharpening the images taken by the spacecraft. In addition, six space shuttle missions have carried a dozen Harris-developed, unfurlable S- and Ku-band antennas into orbit as part of NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS).

Every space shuttle is equipped with Harris-designed and built payload monitoring electronics. The PCM Master Unit, Payload Data Interleaver, and Master Timing Unit work together to provide sensor data from the shuttle and relay it to the ground, as well as monitor the health and performance of the shuttle’s payload.

"Harris has supported major NASA programs since the 1960s, and the technology we developed for NASA has been advanced over the years and is now being applied to communications payload solutions for today’s most advanced satellites," said Sheldon Fox, group president, Harris Government Communications Systems. “The people of Harris are incredibly proud of their contributions to the shuttle program, and we are committed to continuing to support NASA and its dedicated people here on the Space Coast as our nation moves into a new era of space exploration.”

In January 2012, a Harris-built software defined radio (SDR) is slated to be launched to ISS as part of NASA’s CoNNeCT experiment. The Harris SDR enables NASA, industry, and other government agencies to develop and field communications, navigation, and networking technologies in a space environment. Harris radio technology is also being evaluated for the NASA-sponsored Commercial Crew Vehicle and the next generation space suits.