The cost of HAC’s highly successful Pioneer Venus mission was reduced by $12,474 because of an agreement established 10 years ago between the U. S. Customs Service and Space and Communications Group.
The precedent-setting agreement classifies a spacecraft as an export. Once launched, satellite components were judged to be “severed from the possibility of trade within the United States” and therefore considered to be exports, according to Customs officials.
Since the U. S. Customs Service considers the Pioneer Venus mission spacecraft to be exports, the $12,474 duty paid on a 13.5 carat diamond window manufactured by D. Drukker and Sons in Holland was refunded to Hughes, which then credited the amount to NASA’s Pioneer Venus account.
The window is the size of two pennies stacked together and was installed on the largest of the four probes that landed on Venus last month.
A diamond was used for the window because it the only material that allows infrared wavelengths to penetrate the window’s surface and that can withstand the 920 degree F heat and pressure 100 times that on Earth.
Radiometers within the probe must be able to respond to those wavelengths to collect meaningful data on the atmosphere.
The request for the refund, known as a “drawback” in U. S. Customs Service terminology, was initiated by SCG’s Export/Import Operations and was granted by the Customs’ Los Angeles District Office.