NASA today announced it is exercising a contract option
for a Delta II vehicle to launch NOAA-N for the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The spacecraft is currently planned for launch in January
2003, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA. This firm-fixed-
price option is covered under the NASA Medium Light (MED-LITE)
launch service contract (NAS5-32933), awarded by the agency on
Feb. 27, 1996, to McDonnell Douglas Corp. of Huntington Beach,
CA, a subsidiary of The Boeing Company.

NASA’s total launch services budget for NOAA-N is
approximately $56 million.

The goals of NOAA-N after its launch into polar orbit are to
take images and measurements of the Earth’s atmosphere, cloud
cover and surface, as well as to monitor the proton and
electron fluxes near the Earth. The satellite can store and
transmit the data from its instruments. NOAA-N will also be
capable of receiving, processing and re-transmitting data from
free-floating balloons, buoys, and remote automatic-
observation stations around the globe, as well as detecting
and re-transmitting search-and-rescue distress signals.

NOAA-N is managed by the Polar Operational Environmental
Satellite Program at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center,
Greenbelt, MD, and is a cooperative effort among NASA, NOAA,
the United Kingdom and France. The launch service and launch
management are the responsibility of NASA’s Kennedy Space
Center in Florida.