Companies compete to design new weather satellite
Several defense contractors have been selected to develop a prototype of the next generation of the Space Force’s electro-optical infrared weather satellite.
The Space Enterprise Consortium has awarded $ 309 million in the form of three additional transaction authorization agreements for the first phase of the program. Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates, General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems Group, and Raytheon received OTAs.
The spacecraft will help “inform operators and combatants of decisions on how to perform missions,” said Shawn Cochran, senior director of business development for space systems and C2 at Raytheon Intelligence and Space. “It’s really designed from the ground up to help us better understand clouds, the movement of clouds and characterize them to enable things like air-to-air refueling missions, or [operations] where clouds could cover an area of interest.
The companies will work on Phase 1 for eight months, Cochran said. Phase 2 is the final design review and phase 3 is construction and launch.
Raytheon is working on the satellite dubbed Theater Weather Imaging and Cloud Characterization, or TWICC, Cochran said. The system will provide users with increased viewing capability at night.
“Our TWICC design allows the military to continue to see at night, to see weather effects and to see the ground, because we have taken advantage of what is called the day-night band, which gives imagery of night-time weather. and meteorological phenomena, even without moonlighting for mission planning and battlespace intelligence, ”he explained.
The new system will also be designed to offer improved resolution and better daytime capabilities, he noted.
The new bands will give users “a richer perspective on what’s going on in the atmosphere from the surface to the troposphere,” he said.
At the time of going to press, ASTRA and General Atomics had not responded to requests for comment. In a press release, ASTRA announced that it was working with Lockheed Martin, Science and Technology Corp., Pumpkin Inc. and Atmospheric & Environmental Research on this effort. The company is working on an eight-channel rapid-review optical cloud imager.
“Our solution ensures easy implementation and rapid updating of new technologies in the architecture as needed, and will satisfy both government and the commercial sector. [space-based environmental monitoring] requirements, ”Scott Jensen, principal investigator of the project and ASTRA senior vice president for technology, said in the release.
Cochran said the Space Force hopes to have an initial prototype by January 2023 and wants the constellation to be ready for initial operational testing and evaluation by 2025.
The subjects: Battlefield communications, space