Fairchild Industries Inc. of Germantown and Atlanta-based Continental Telecom Inc. became sole owners of Space Communications Co. last week by completing their purchase of Western Union Corp.'s half-interest in Spacecom.
Prior to the transaction, Fairchild and Contel each owned 25 percent of Spacecom, which has managed and operated the tracking and data relay satellite system (TDRSS) for NASA for 10 years.
Western Union agreed late last year to liquidate its interest in Spacecom, paving the way for joint-ownership of the Gaithersburg company by Fairchild and Contel.
The agreement followed a change in the contract, giving NASA total use of TDRSS.
Originally, a portion of the satellite capacity was to have been available for commercial use.
Last week, the three members of the former partnership received $35 million under terms of the contract change.
Western Union's share of the total for liquidation of its 50 percent interest amounted to $29 million.
The transfer of funds will not affect earnings of either of the remaining partners, a Fairchild spokesman explained.
Moreover, it will have no material affect on Spacecom's operation, he said, adding that Spacecom's owners draw from a fund set up by the government to operate the tracking system.
When fully operational, TDRSS will consist of three satellites tracking other spacecraft, including the space shuttle, and relaying information back and forth to a ground station owned and operated by Spacecom at White Sands, N.M.