NASA awards contracts for NOAA sounder for microwave-based applications study

Sept. 5, 2023
The companies will compete to develop a microwave sounder for NOAA’s Near-Earth Orbit Network (NEON) program.

WASHINGTON - The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has announced awarding of four contracts to conduct NOAA’s Sounder for Microwave-Based Applications (SMBA) Phase-A study.

The firm-fixed-price contracts allow for a Phase A definition study and design development as part of SMBA formulation activities. The period of performance runs 12 months.

The companies will compete to develop a microwave sounder for NOAA’s Near-Earth Orbit Network (NEON) program. Following the completion of the 12-month contract, a single sounder from the finalists may be selected for additional contract phases that may lead to integration into NOAA’s NEON program series of Low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, with the initial launch scheduled for no earlier than 2030.

Microwave sounders provide critical data on the physical properties of our atmosphere, such as temperature and moisture, which heavily influence weather patterns and enable the NOAA National Weather Service’s numerical weather models to forecast weather three days in the future and beyond.

SMBA would fly on NOAA’s NEON program series of LEO satellites with the first launch planned in 2030.

The contractors selected and contract amounts are:

  • Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colorado – $5 million
  • Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Falls Church, Virginia – $4,995,327
  • Orbital Micro Systems Inc., Boulder, Colorado – $4,996,530
  • Spire Global Subsidiary Inc., Vienna, Virginia – $4,655,000

The government would execute SMBA Phases B-D on a separate contract vehicle if the decision is made to proceed after Phase A.

NEON is a collaborative mission between NASA and NOAA. NOAA, as the mission lead, provides funding, technical requirements and post-launch operations. NASA will manage the development of the satellites and launch them for NOAA, which will operate them and deliver data to users worldwide. NOAA and NASA will work with commercial partners to design and build the NEON spacecraft and instruments.

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