Three teams compete to build NOAA climate satellite

Nov. 15, 2005
WASHINGTON, 15 Nov. 2005. Leaders at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have awarded three contracts of $10 million each for a competition to build the next-generation weather satellite known as the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite Program (GOES-R).

WASHINGTON, 15 Nov. 2005. Leaders at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have awarded three contracts of $10 million each for a competition to build a next-generation weather satellite for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite Program (GOES-R).

The three teams are:
* A Boeing Company team based in St. Louis, Mo., including Harris Corp., Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp, Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc., and Carr Astronautics
* Lockheed Martin Space systems Company (LMSSC), in Denver, Colo., with teammates including: Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems & Solutions (IS&S) to provide the systems integration and ground segment, and 15 additional industry and academic partners, and
* Northrop Grumman Corp., Redondo Beach, Calif. and Raytheon Company, Waltham, Mass.

The six-month contracts are Program Definition and Risk Reduction studies, containing two options, which could add 16 months and result in a total value of $30 million.

Each team will analyze the GOES-R requirements and develop a system solution using advanced sensing technology, ground data processing, communications, and command and control.

The PDRR phase will end with a "fly-off" competition in 2007, with NOAA selecting a single team for development and production of the GOES-R end-to-end system.

NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) program has a 30-year history of observing and predicting the intensity and track of severe storms in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, providing data for daily and long-range weather forecasting, and climate studies. In addition to the Earth-observing instruments, GOES satellites also carry solar instruments that provide advance warning of events on the Sun, such as solar flares, that can impact life on Earth.

When ready for launch in 2012, GOES-R will improve the timeliness and accuracy of weather forecasts and will also improve support for the detection and observation of meteorological phenomena. These improvements will be accomplished with enhanced data handling on the ground, as well as an improved spacecraft integrated with state-of-the-art sensors, such as the advanced baseline imager and the hyperspectral environmental suite. These improvements could affect public safety, protection of property, and economic health and development.

These next generation GOES-R satellites will collect 100 times more data and scan the Earth three-to-five times faster than previous systems. They will also carry instruments that offer dramatic improvements in America's ability to observe the Earth and the Sun and will lead to more accurate predictions of the intensity and landfall of hurricanes with longer lead times than today, significantly improving weather forecasts. Scientists will be able to use new observations to monitor the variability of atmospheric constituents associated with air quality and climate change.

The aviation weather community will also benefit from more accurate upper level wind measurements, better predictions of clear air turbulence events, and an improved ability to detect and track volcanic ash that can damage jet engines.

In addition, GOES-R will field new capabilities, such as a coastal waters imager capability that will view the entire U.S. coastline every three hours at high resolution. This instrument will be used to evaluate the ocean's biological productivity, detect harmful algae blooms, and assess coastal zones after severe storms for protection of fragile ecosystems. These new and augmented capabilities provided by GOES-R will lead to significant economic benefits to the nation in the areas of weather and water, climate, ecosystems monitoring and management, and commerce and transportation.

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By Ben Ames, Senior Editor

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