SAN FRANCISCO — Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and Raytheon Intelligence & Space will begin developing technologies for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s next generation of geostationary weather satellites under contracts announced May 17.
Under firm fixed-price contracts awarded by NASA, NOAA’s acquisition partner, each company will receive approximately $5 million to conduct a definition phase study of the Atmospheric Composition instrument for the Geostationary Extended Observations program, called GeoXO.
In addition to monitoring Earth’s weather, NOAA’s GeoXO constellation, scheduled to begin launching in the early 2030s, will carry instruments to monitor lightning, coastal ocean conditions and air quality. NOAA plans to operate GeoXO satellites over the eastern and western United States, like the current GOES-R series, as well as a satellite over the central United States.
The Atmospheric Composition instrument, called ACX, will collect images from the ultraviolet to the visible spectral bands. Ball and Raytheon will have 20 months to define the instrument’s potential performance, risks, cost and development schedule. Based on industry studies, NOAA will establish the requirements for the ACX instrument implementation contract, which the agency plans to award in 2024.
From its perch over the central United States, ACX will collect extensive data on atmospheric chemicals and aerosols.
“One of those key measurements will be related to air quality, which will inform us of the risk to our health and safety here on Earth,” said Matt Magaña, associate vice president of Raytheon Space Systems. SpaceNews. “Obviously it’s fundamental to how we live our lives and the pollution that we’ve created now, and how we’re going to look at it in the future.”
Raytheon completed a design study for a high-resolution imager for the GeoXO constellation last year. After that, the company put together a team “to identify and characterize new pollution threats, how are we going to monitor them, how are we advancing those observations to deliver a long tail of next-generation Earth observation instruments,” Magaña said. . .
Ball is also working on a Phase A definition study for a geostationary probe for the GeoXO constellation. NASA awarded contracts valued at approximately $8 million each to Ball and L3Harris in October.
Ball built the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite, launched in 2011, and the first Joint Polar Satellite System spacecraft launched in 2017. Meanwhile, Ball is building the Weather System Follow-On satellite for the US Space Force. USA and the company. won a contract in 2020 to build, integrate, and operate NOAA’s Space Weather Follow On satellite for Sun-Earth Lagrange Point 1.
Raytheon announced in December a $67 million contract with the Space Force to build a weather satellite that would provide cloud cover images and other data needed for military operations.
Raytheon also manufactures the array of visible infrared imaging radiometers that fly on Suomi NPP and the first joint polar satellite system, as well as the moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites.