SAN FRANCISCO — Ball Aerospace, Northrop Grumman, Orbital Micro Systems, and Spire Global have won contracts, announced August 31, to design microwave acoustics for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Under contracts awarded by NASA on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the four companies will conduct studies and design acoustic instrumentation for the Near-Earth Orbiting Network, or NEON, NOAA’s next generation of polar-orbiting weather satellites.
Ball and OMS, based in Colorado, and Northrop Grumman, based in Virginia, have been awarded $5 million fixed-price contracts to design the NOAA Sounder for Microwave-Based Applications (SMBA). The Virginia-based Spire contract was valued at approximately $4.7 million.
After the companies complete the 12-month studies, NASA and NOAA will decide whether to continue developing and manufacturing the audio device.
If approved, SMBA will begin collecting data on Neon satellites in low Earth orbit in the 2030s, according to a NASA press release.
Microwave meters provide essential data sets for numerical weather models. NEON, the successor constellation of weather satellites to the Joint Polar Satellite System, begins with a free-flying probe and continues over decades with a series of small and medium-sized satellites.
NOAA leads NEON’s mission and provides funding, technical requirements, and post-launch operations. NASA manages the development and launch of satellites.
Commercial weather tools
“We are proud to be leveraging Spire’s expertise in satellite technology to enhance Earth observations and enable meteorologists, scientists and researchers to gain more accurate insights into the properties of the atmosphere,” Chuck Cash, Spire’s vice president of federal sales, said in a statement.
OMS demonstrated the passive microwave probe of the Global Environmental Monitoring System in orbit from 2019 to 2021.
“GEMS1 operated in orbit successfully for 19 months before de-orbiting in April 2021. This remains the only commercial microwave probe mission launched to date,” said Michael Horowitz, OMS founder, CEO and chief technology officer. Space news by email.
Ball manufactures two microwave weather system satellites for the US Space Force.
Northrop Grumman is building a prototype infrared photovoltaic weather system for the Space Force.
Spire last year announced plans to equip its cube satellites with microwave sensors from RAL Space, the British government’s national laboratory.
This article was updated on September 1 with information about Orbital Micro Systems’ Global Environmental Monitoring System.
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