WASHINGTON — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced May 30 that its first next-generation polar-orbiting weather satellite is now fully operational as the government prepares to procure additional satellites.
NOAA said the first weather satellite of the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), renamed NOAA-20 after its launch on November 18, had completed six months of in-orbit verification and was now fully operational.
NOAA-20 is in the same orbit as the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite, which has served as NOAA’s primary polar-orbiting weather satellite since 2014. While Suomi, launched in late 2011, continues to operate beyond its An anticipated five-year lifespan, the entry into service of NOAA-20 puts an end to any concerns about a data gap.
NOAA-20 carries a suite of advanced instruments that provide enhanced observations of weather conditions that feed weather models, increasing the accuracy of three- to seven-day forecasts.
NOAA-20 data is particularly important for the polar regions, which cannot be observed well from satellites in geostationary orbit. “NOAA-20 is particularly useful for tracking developing storms in the Arctic, Alaska and Antarctica,” Neil Jacobs, assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction, said in a statement. “Predictions for these remote areas are essential for America’s fishing, energy, transportation and recreation industries, which operate in some of the most challenging conditions on the planet.”
JPSS-1 was built by Ball Aerospace, but future satellites in the series will be built by Orbital ATK under a contract awarded in March 2015. This initial contract covered JPSS-2, with options for JPSS-3 and 4. Ball protested the attribution. to the US Government Accountability Office, which denied the protest in July 2015.
NASA announced May 25 that it was exercising the options for JPSS-3 and 4. The agency did not disclose the value of the options, saying only the overall contract value, including JPSS-2 currently under construction. , was $460 million. In the 2015 contract announcement, NASA said JPSS-3 was valued at $130 million and JPSS-4 at $87 million, with a total contract value of $470 million. NASA serves as the acquisition authority for NOAA’s weather satellite programs.
“Orbital ATK is making excellent progress on JPSS-2, and the program team is ready to begin work on the two additional JPSS satellites,” said Steve Krein, vice president of science and environmental satellite programs at Orbital. ATK, in a statement on JPSS. -3 and 4. Integration and testing of JPSS-2 is expected to begin this summer, with delivery expected in 2021.
JPSS-3 is expected to be delivered in 2023, followed by JPSS-4 in 2026. However, these two satellites will not be launched immediately. NOAA plans to launch JPSS-3 in 2026 and JPSS-4 in 2031, dates that could change depending on the state of the satellites in orbit.