WASHINGTON — NASA has awarded Raytheon a $198 million contract to build an imager for the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)-2 civilian weather satellite, which is slated to launch in 2022, according to an Aug. 12 press release. 

The announcement came just days after NASA and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which will operate the NASA-procured JPSS system, confirmed a March 31, 2017 launch date for the JPSS-1 satellite.

For JPSS-2, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems of El Segundo, Calif., will supply the Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), which collects cloud imagery and other data in 22 spectral bands to help scientists better understand global weather and climate patterns. The company is the supplier of similar instruments for JPSS-1 and its predecessor, the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite that launched in October 2011.

“The meteorology community has expressed overwhelmingly positive feedback for the data VIIRS provides,” Bill Hart, vice president of space systems at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, said in a statement. “VIIRS has set new benchmarks in low light imagery and shown itself to be an indispensable tool in developing highly accurate, timely forecasts that are used to protect life and property during major weather events.”

NASA has yet to award a contract for the JPSS-2 satellite platform, or bus. 

Meanwhile, the review that confirmed JPSS-1’s launch date also set an official life-cycle cost estimate for the overall JPSS program at $11.3 billion, including $2.5 billion in costs inherited from earlier programs.

In August, NASA finalized contracts for JPSS-1 totaling about $650 million, including a $280.4 million award to Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. to build the satellite bus. Boulder, Colo.-based Ball also has a  $61.1 million contract for the spacecraft’s Ozone Mapper Profiler Suite instrument. 

The JPSS-1 instruments are expected to be completed and delivered in the next six months.

“We’re pleased with how things are progressing,” Harry Cikanek, NASA’s JPSS program director, said. 

Cikanek said the Suomi satellite, originally conceived as a demonstration platform but pressed into operational service to avoid gaps in weather coverage, is performing well thus far and has not shown any signs of “life-limiting degradation.” 

Mike Gruss is a senior staff writer for SpaceNews. He joined the publication in January 2013 to cover military space. Previously, he worked as a reporter and columnist for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. and The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind. He...