WHO: Lt. Gen. James A. Abrahamson, USAF-Retired, who directed both the Space Shuttle program and “Star Wars” Strategic Defense Initiative, will be the keynote speaker for NJIT’s spring commencement.
WHAT: Abrahamson is chairman and CEO of StratCom International. Abrahamson, along with NJIT researchers, is developing stratospheric airships for homeland security and telecommunications. The unmanned, stationary platforms, intended to hover 12 miles above the ground, will be 25 times the size of a Goodyear blimp. The airships will be equipped with sensing devices to provide surveillance coverage over a surface area of 500,000 square miles. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has recommended the stationing of 10 airships to securely cover all the U.S. continental borders.
RESEARCH: NJIT’s research on the airships is directed by Donald H. Sebastian, vice president of research and development and director of the university’s Homeland Security Technology Center. The research project, says Sebastian, is a natural fit for NJIT. “We have expertise in the whole range of applicable technologies — terahertz imaging, advanced materials technology for the airship skin, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), intermodal freight transportation through our transportation centers, wireless telecommunications, and information-assurance systems,” Sebastian says. “We saw this as a mandate for NJIT to apply its resources and expertise to New Jersey’s homeland security.”
WHEN: Wednesday, May 26, 2004, at 9:30 a.m.
WHERE: Prudential Hall, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark.
BACKGROUND: In 1998, Abrahamsom founded StratCom, a small company based in Delaware, and partnered with Lockheed Martin to develop the airships for the telecommunications industry. After 9/11, defense agencies took a greater interest in the stratospheric airships. Last September, Team Lockheed Martin, which includes its long-time partner, StratCom, won a $40 million contract with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), an agency under the Department of Defense, to design the airships. MDA’s mission is to develop, test and prepare a missile defense system.