The Commerce
NOAA has
awarded a $1.9 million contract to Science
Systems and Applications, Inc
. of Lanham, Md., on behalf
of NOAA’s National Environmental
Satellite, Data, and Information Service

The contract provides for the operations,
software and technical support of the U.S.
Mission Control Center
in Suitland, Md. The center is the
hub of satellite-based
search and rescue operations
in the United States.

The center collects, stores, and sorts
distress signals sent via emergency radio beacon from aircraft
and boats and ships in distress. Distress signals are received
by NOAA satellites and sent to ground terminals that then transmit
the information to the center. The center in turn passes the
information to the appropriate search and rescue coordination
centers. Though most of the alert data distribution is automatic,
the U.S. Mission Control Center is staffed 24 hours a day, 365
days a year. More than 11,000 lives have been saved since the
search and rescue system began in 1982.

The contract also provides for support
of a data collection system, a satellite-based relay system used
to collect information from environmental sensors on earth-based
platforms. An electronic signal containing the environmental
data observed by the sensors on the platform is sent to a transponder
on board the satellite and then re-broadcast to ground equipment
holding the relevant database.

The initial contract is for one year of
support with a performance-based option to extend the contract
for up to four years. The initial contract award is for $1,962,688
with a total estimated value of $11,824,717 if all options are

NESDIS manages the nation’s geostationary,
and polar-orbiting environmental satellites, equipped with search
and rescue instruments, and data collection systems.

For more information please visit

For more information on the search and
rescue and data collection systems please visit