REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Nov. 30, 2009 -- A critical sensor for the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environment Satellite System (NPOESS) has successfully completed all testing at Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) subcontractor, Raytheon Company (NYSE:RTN), and is ready for delivery. NPOESS is the nation's next generation low-Earth orbiting operational weather and climate monitoring system, which will deliver essential data for the nation's warfighters and citizens.
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) sensor completed testing in late October, including 112 days of thermal vacuum and post-thermal vacuum testing. VIIRS was installed in a shipping container, where it is being stored until it is shipped to Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. for integration onto the spacecraft of NPOESS' precursor mission, the NPOESS Preparatory Project.
Throughout the entire testing process, VIIRS overall performance was carefully evaluated by Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and representatives of the government customer and stakeholders.
"VIIRS demonstrated very, very good radiometric performance during testing," said Dave Vandervoet, NPOESS vice president and program manager for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "Issues of design and performance were substantially allayed as we reviewed testing results and saw that this sensor will indeed deliver beneficial new capabilities. This is a significant milestone for VIIRS and for the NPOESS program."
Thermal vacuum is the final major test in the instrument's development process and is the last in a series of environmental tests that also includes electro-magnetic interference and vibration testing. Following the thermal vacuum testing, VIIRS also underwent polarization, electro-mechanical interference and mass properties testing.
"The first VIIRS flight unit has successfully demonstrated its readiness for on-orbit operation," said Bill Hart, vice president, Space Systems for Raytheon. "The sensor has been producing outstanding results."
A second VIIRS flight unit is currently in production. Important components have been built and tested. This unit will be deployed on NPOESS C1, the first operational NPOESS satellite.
VIIRS will collect visible/infrared imagery and radiometric data on the atmosphere, clouds, Earth radiation budget, clear-air land/water surfaces, sea surface temperature, and ocean color, as well as low-light visible imagery. The sensor will offer dramatic and unprecedented spatial, spectral, and radiometric performance improvements compared with current operational capabilities.
The NPOESS program has achieved several significant milestones in 2009. These include:
-- The Interface Data Processing Segment (IDPS) has been handed over to the Operations and Sustainment team at Air Force and NOAA facilities. IDPS hosts the algorithms that will process satellite data and provide environmental data records starting with the NPP, and continuing through the lifetime of the NPOESS system. -- A Northrop Grumman/Integrated Program Office/NASA team successfully flew a simulated NPP satellite for 12 orbits with the NPP flight simulator and operations crew. -- The electrical engineering model test bed for the NPOESS spacecraft was inaugurated and put into use. This important test bed is used to reduce risks and consists of subsystem engineering models and sensor engineering development units integrated in a flight-like electrical configuration.
The prime contractor for NPOESS, Northrop Grumman is leading a nationwide industrial team for the system's design, development, and operations. NPOESS is an essential advancement of the nation's environmental monitoring system and will provide a stable and consistent platform for weather and climate monitoring.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.
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