Intraspace Corp. of North Salt Lake has been awarded a $3.3 million contract by the Office of Naval Research for a "commander class" satellite bus that will support an oceanographic altimeter payload in its proof-of-concept flights scheduled for early 1991.

The payload is being developed in a separate effort with the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University. It is the first major contract awarded to the company by the Department of Defense.ONR officials said they are trying to develop special-purpose, inexpensive satellite technology with the purpose of simplicity, redundancy and affordability. "SPINSATS offers the opportunity to combine elements of both operational missions and experimental programs into cost-effective proof-of-concept demonstrations and advancements in basic and applied technology," officials said.

The principal thrust of the program is to identify and develop technology that the Navy and Marine Corps can employ to obtain and maintain efficient use of space for a variety of naval tactical missions and experimental purposes.

Intraspace's bus includes a generic low-cost and lightweight design suitable for use with the Scout or Pegasus launch vehicles.