WASHINGTON — Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems of Los Angeles was awarded a $429.9 million contract modification to allow it to begin working toward new military requirements for the Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS), the U.S. Air Force announced May 24.
Northrop Grumman was the prime contractor for the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) that was being designed to provide both military and civilian weather information. The White House dismantled the program in 2010, citing the ineffectiveness of a tri-agency management structure comprising the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Air Force and NASA.
The Air Force since then has been working to assemble a new weather satellite program to replace its legacy Defense Meteorological Satellite Program spacecraft, the final two of which have yet to be launched. Northrop Grumman will develop a new platform for the DWSS spacecraft and serve as the overall integrator.
The first DWSS satellite is planned for launch in 2018. The satellites will carry two instruments developed for NPOESS — the Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer and the Space Environmental Monitoring sensor — and a to-be-determined microwave sensor.
“For DWSS, we have defined an effective program plan that leverages the high level of maturity achieved on the spacecraft and sensors that are already in production, and we continually work closely with the Air Force to pursue efficiencies throughout the program,” Linnie Haynesworth, Northrop Grumman’s DWSS vice president program director, said in a May 25 press release. “Our team is prepared to immediately execute a successful and affordable program to bring this critical capability to the warfighter.”
Northrop Grumman also retained a small oversight role in the Joint Polar Satellite System, the NPOESS program’s civilian spinoff being managed by NASA with funding from NOAA.
Northrop and U.S. Air Force Close To Finalizing DWSS Contract