U.S. Air Force Funding Weather Satellite Studies

by

ATK Space Systems and the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory are among the early recipients of study contracts for a planned U.S. military weather satellite system, according to company and government statements.

In a Jan. 7 press release, ATK Space Systems of Beltsville, Md., said it landed a contract from the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) to study “network centric” small satellites as part of the service’s examination of options for a next-generation weather satellite system. According to SMC, the one-year contract, awarded Dec. 14, is valued at $5.9 million.

“This study will provide comprehensive insight into the capabilities and characteristics of a 21st century weather data service that can systematically augment the legacy Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP),” ATK said in the press release. “The study will focus on two aspects of such a mission system: 1) net-centric architectures, and; 2) small, agile, cost-effective heritage spacecraft buses that can be used to support a variety of future weather payloads.”

The Applied Physics Laboratory of Laurel, Md., meanwhile, was awarded a one-year contract valued at $9.4 million to support the weather satellite follow-on activities under the broad agency announcement issued in June, the Pentagon said Dec. 21.

The broad agency announcement covers risk-reduction work for a next-generation weather satellite system, including studies of advanced sensors and alternative architectures. The Air Force plans to request funding for development of the system, intended to replace the DMSP satellites — of which the service has just two remaining — in 2015.

According to a Dec. 18 amendment to the broad agency announcement, the Air Force is no longer accepting study proposals under the effort. “On going solicitations and awards will continue, but white papers are no longer being accepted until further notice,” the amendment said.