AUSTIN, Texas, March 15, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Astrotech Corporation, (Nasdaq:ASTC), a leading provider of commercial space services, today announced that its Astrotech Space Operations (ASO) subsidiary has been awarded a NASA task order contract to provide payload processing services for the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite at ASO's Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, facility. SMAP is the second mission awarded by NASA under the current Not-to-Exceed $16 million Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) task order contract that runs through December, 2017. The Jet Propulsion Lab satellite, scheduled to launch in October, 2014, will gather global measurements of soil moisture and its freeze/thaw state from space. The three-year applied science mission will enhance weather forecasts and climate monitoring and prediction capabilities. "Astrotech is proud to have been selected by NASA for this important earth science mission," stated ASO General Manager Don M. White, Jr. "We are excited to be part of a mission that will provide valuable information about our planet. SMAP will increase understanding of the conditions that influence floods and droughts, wildfires, ecosystem health, water resources, agriculture and forestry." In January, NASA awarded a Not-to-Exceed $12.1 million Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) task order contract to ASO Florida to provide commercial payload processing services for satellites launched at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. From Titusville, Florida, and Vandenberg AFB, California, Astrotech Space Operations provides all support necessary for Government and commercial customers to successfully process their satellite hardware for launch, including advance planning; use of unique facilities; and spacecraft checkout, encapsulation, fueling, and transport. In its 31-year history, Astrotech has supported the successful processing of more than 300 spacecraft. About Astrotech Corporation and Astrotech Space Operations (ASO) Astrotech is one of the first space commerce companies and remains a strong entrepreneurial force in the aerospace industry. We are leaders in identifying, developing and marketing space technology for commercial use. Our Astrotech Space Operations (ASO) has been a global satellite processing leader since 1981. With more than 300 successful spacecraft missions to date, Astrotech continues to provide adaptable and flexible services for its Government and commercial customers. Astrotech Space Operations provides all support necessary for successful spacecraft processing to prepare for launch on a variety of domestic and foreign launch vehicles. Spacecraft undergo pre-launch hardware integration and testing, satellite encapsulation, and fueling before transport to the pad. Astrotech Space Operations business unit serves our satellite and spacecraft customers with pre-launch services on the Eastern Range (Kennedy Space Center) and Western Range (Vandenberg Air Force Base).