TRW to build $4.5 billion satellite weather system

TRW Inc. of Cleveland has won a $4.5 billion contract to build the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System, the United States' next-generation meteorological satellite system, the company announced Aug. 23.

The new system will merge U.S. weather polar-orbiting satellite programs into a single, national program, providing increased capability at a reduced cost, according to TRW. The system, which will include two new satellites and related systems, will provide timely and accurate weather and climate information for civil, military and scientific purposes, including long-range forecasts.

The initial contract is worth $2.9 billion and expires in 2012. With contract extensions, it has a potential value of $4.5 billion through 2019. TRW was selected over Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin Corp., according to market research firm Input Inc. of Chantilly, Va.

The NPOESS Integrated Program Office, a joint effort of NASA and the departments of Commerce and Defense, awarded the contract. The award follows a three-year, competitive preliminary design and risk reduction effort.

The system will significantly improve U.S. climate and weather forecasting, said Tim Hannemann, president and chief executive officer of TRW's Space & Electronics division. NPOESS "will touch the lives of everyone on the planet," Hannemann said.

Prime contractor TRW will handle overall system design and development, system engineering, system integration, acquisition of instruments and assembly and test of the spacecraft.

Teammate Raytheon Co. of Lexington, Mass., will provide the ground system for NPOESS, including the command, control and communications, mission data processing and system engineering support. Its software architecture will deliver massive amounts of data to produce weather analyses and information products in support of forecasting, scientific research and tactical users. Raytheon's portion of the work is valued at approximately $1 billion, according to Raytheon officials.

"NPOESS is a tremendous victory for Raytheon," said Vice President Ray Kolibaba. "We will deliver an integrated team effort to bring the best capabilities and technology to support our government customer and TRW."

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