NASA's NPOESS Preparatory Project satellite launches with help from Raytheon, Pratt & Whitney, Ball Aerospace, United Launch Alliance
VANDENBERG AFB, Calif., 29 Oct. 2011. NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials launched the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Preparatory Project (NPP) spacecraft aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The NPP polar-orbiting satellite will bridge the NASA Earth Observing System (EOS) and the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) constellation of weather monitoring spacecraft.
The Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) is the primary instrument responsible for global imagery, land, and sea surface temperature monitoring, cloud characterization, and other environmental data. A new Common Ground System built by Raytheon Company (NYSE:RTN) manages nearly a terabyte of information daily to support enhanced environmental data records.
The NPP satellite is encapsulated inside the fairing (nose cone) of a United Launch Alliance Delta II launch vehicle. Engineers at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. built the NPP satellite BCP 2000 satellite bus for Goddard Space Flight Center. Ball also built one of five instruments for the NPP: the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS).