Lockheed Martin and Maxar win weather satellite contracts

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SAN FRANCISCO — Lockheed Martin and Maxar Space have won contracts worth $5 million each to help shape the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s future geostationary weather satellite program.

NOAA announced July 26 the Geostationary Extended Spacecraft (GeoXO) Phase A study contracts, which NASA has awarded on behalf of NOAA.

Under the contracts, each company will spend ten months developing the GeoXO spacecraft concept, maturing the necessary technologies and helping define the spacecraft’s potential performance, risks, costs and development schedule. The results of the study will help NASA and NOAA establish requirements for GeoXO spacecraft development contracts that are expected to be awarded in 2024.

“We are excited about NASA and NOAA’s GeoXO program,” said Adrián Cuadra, director of weather and earth sciences at Lockheed Martin. SpaceNews by email. “It will build on the technology we have today and be a game-changer for the future of severe weather forecasting, ocean and climate monitoring.”

Lockheed Martin is building two instruments on the current geostationary weather constellation, the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) R-series: the geostationary Lightning Mapper and the Solar Ultraviolet Imager.

“We know what it takes to succeed and look forward to continuing our trusted partnership, focused on the mission of saving lives,” Cuadra added.

Maxar also has a history of working on NOAA weather satellites. Maxar manufactured eight of NOAA’s first- and second-generation GOES satellites in the 1970s and 1990s, Chris Johnson, Maxar senior vice president and Space general manager, said by email.

“Maxar is committed to helping its customers use spacecraft and space data to further their efforts in studying weather patterns and mitigating climate change, so this GeoXO study contract is the next evolution of that work. “, added Johnson.

In the early 2030s, NOAA plans to begin operating three GeoXO satellites. One over the eastern and one over the western United States, like the current GOES-R series, plus a third satellite over the central United States.

With the GeoXO constellation, NOAA is looking for improved images over the GOES-R series. The agency also intends to continue mapping lightning and observing space weather from GeoXO satellites.

Additionally, the constellation will fly ocean color instruments and the centrally located GeoXO spacecraft will carry a hyperspectral infrared sounder and an atmospheric composition instrument.

NOAA funds, operates and manages the GeoXO mission. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center administers study contract awards.

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