Solar flare protons and energetic electrons affect satellites, avionics and Earth's magnetic field. Credit: NASA

SAN FRANCISCO – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded a $12.9 million contract to the Southwest Research Institute to design and build the Space Weather Follow-On (SWFO) Lagrange-1 Magnetometer. NOAA awarded the cost-plus, fixed-fee contract announced April 15 through NASA, its procurement agent for the award.

The contract directs the Southwest Research Institute to design, analyze, develop, fabricate, integrate, test, calibrate and evaluate the instrument, which consists of two three-axis magnetometers and associated electronics.

Federal agencies are working together to improve space weather research, monitoring and forecasting. NOAA’s SWFO program is a key element of that campaign.

Under the contract, the Southwest Research Institute will “support launch and on-orbit checkout of the instrument, supply and maintain the instrument ground support equipment, and support the mission operations center through mission hand-over to NOAA,” according to the NOAA news release.

NOAA’s SWFO-L1 satellite, scheduled to launch in 2024 as a rideshare on the NASA Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe, is designed to collect data on solar wind and coronal imagery.

SWFO-L1 is designed to carry on the work of the NASA-European Space Agency Solar and Heliophysics Observatory launched in 1995 and and NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory launched in 2015.

NASA is the flight systems procurement agent for the NOAA Space Weather Follow-On program. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is the acquisition lead.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...