ITT to Supply Sensors for Japanese Weather Craft

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ITT Space Systems of Rochester, N.Y., will supply sensors for a pair of geostationary-orbiting weather satellites being built for the Japan Meteorological Agency and slated for launch in 2014 and 2016, according to company officials.

The instruments will be based on the Advanced Baseline Imager the company is building for the next-generation U.S. Geostationary-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite-R system, according to Kyle T. Schmackpfeffer, senior program manager of commercial and space sciences at ITT Space Systems.

Mitsubishi Electric Corp. of Tokyo in July announced it had been selected by the Japan Meteorological Agency to build the Himawari 8 and Himawari 9 satellites. The satellites will be based on the company’s DS2000 platform, which was demonstrated with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Engineering and Test Satellite-8 mission.

The new weather satellites will replace the Himawari 6 and Himawari 7 satellites. Himawari 7 is expected to reach the end of its service life in 2015, according to a July 17 press release issued by Mitsubishi.

The new satellites will weigh 3,500 kilograms at launch and are each expected to operate for eight years, the press release said.

Bruce A. Wald, vice president and director, image information solution at ITT Space Systems, held out the contract to supply the Himawari sensors as an example of the company’s ability to win overseas business despite tough U.S. export restrictions for space technology. During an interview here at the Geoint 2009 Symposium, he said ITT, which also has a long history of building payloads for the U.S. GPS navigation satellites, is eyeing possible opportunities to sell that technology to international customers.

Wald declined to be specific, but Europe is developing a global satellite navigation system dubbed Galileo while India is planning a regional system. China also is developing a global navigation system, but the Chinese space market has long been off limits to U.S. suppliers.