The space industry is developing a new class of weather satellites for civil and military customers. Credit: Raytheon Intelligence & Space

WASHINGTON — Raytheon Technologies received a $67 million contract from the U.S. Space Force to build a weather satellite to provide imagery of cloud cover and other data needed for military operations, the company announced Dec. 15.

Raytheon Intelligence & Space is one of three contenders selected by the Space Force’s Space Systems Command in June 2020 to develop space sensor prototypes for the Electro-Optical Infrared Weather System, or EWS. 

The other competitors are General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems, and Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates. The Space Systems Command said it plans to select at least one of those designs in early 2022 for an in-space demonstration.

The new contract awarded to Raytheon funds additional development work beyond what was required under the original contract. Raytheon said that, if selected, it can deliver a satellite ready for launch by 2025.

EWS satellites will collect imagery of cloud cover and provide other meteorological data used to plan military operations. They will replace aging Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites that are projected to stop working sometime between late 2023 and 2026.

“Continuing the DMSP electro-optical infrared capability is critical to military planning for land, sea and air operations,” said Paul Meyer, Raytheon’s vice president for space systems.

Meyer said Raytheon expects its EWS satellite will provide the same cloud characterization and theater weather imagery observations that the military gets from DMSP but with greater detail and resolution.

Raytheon said it will build its EWS prototype on a satellite bus made by Blue Canyon Technologies, a company it acquired a year ago.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...