NOAA 2003-042
Contact: John Leslie
NOAA News Releases 2003
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Suitland, Md. Facility Will House $50 Million In High-Tech Equipment,
Control $3 Billion Worth Of Satellites

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) today broke ground on the site of a new $61 million Satellite Operations Center in Suitland, Md. The new building, which is expected to open in 2005, will house current and future environmental satellite operations of national and global significance.

At a ceremony yards away from the existing NOAA Satellite and Information Services building, Maryland state officials joined top leaders of NOAA and GSA in heralding the start of construction.

"The ground we break today will be the state-of-the-art facility of tomorrow," said Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich. "The new Satellite Operations Center will add to Maryland's already impressive portfolio as a leader in advanced technology."

“Today, we are at the threshold of a new beginning in environmental satellite operations. This center will expand our ability to provide the best satellite data available for weather and climate forecasts,” said Deputy Secretary of Commerce Samuel Bodman.

“This new facility will be the nerve center for NOAA’s next-generation satellite series,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

Donald C. Williams, regional administrator for GSA’s National Capital Region, said, “GSA is pleased to be able to support NOAA’s many weather-related functions that are so critical for the safety of American citizens, our armed forces and allies. The new center combines an innovative design with state-of-the-art technology.”

Once construction is complete, the new building will contain high-technology equipment valued at $50 million, including 16 antennae that will control more than $3 billion in environmental satellites.

The new facility will replace NOAA’s satellite operations currently located in the World War II era Federal Office Building 4. NOAA’s Satellite Operations Control Center provides command, control and communications for three sets of satellites: NOAA’s geostationary operational environmental satellites (GOES); NOAA’s polar-orbiting operational environmental satellites (POES), and the Department of Defense’s Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP).

“The polar satellite system of the future, the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System, as well as the future geostationary system, the GOES-R series, that will launch in 2012, will be based in this new building,” Lautenbacher added.

Additionally, it will be home to a computer facility that processes satellite data to support meteorology, oceanography, and solid earth and solar-terrestrial sciences. Personnel from NOAA’s systems development for future observing platforms also will be located in the new building.

The U.S. Mission Control Center for the Search and Rescue Satellite-aided Tracking program, called Cospas-Sarsat, will be located in the new building. The Cospas-Sarsat system uses NOAA and Russian satellites to detect and locate emergency beacons that emit distress signals from pilots, mariners and hikers. The National Naval Ice Center, operated by NOAA, the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, also will be based there. The center provides worldwide operational ice analyses for armed forces of the United States, allied nations, U.S. government agencies and the private sector.

“This project demonstrates GSA and NOAA’s commitment to the Suitland Federal Center and the surrounding community,” said GSA Assistant Regional Administrator Anthony E. Costa. The project received a GSA Design Award for 2002 for outstanding public architecture and design.

NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NOAA Satellite and Information Services) is the nation’s primary source of space-based meteorological and climate data. NOAA Satellite and Information Services operates the nation's environmental satellites, which are used for weather forecasting, climate monitoring and other environmental applications such as fire detection, ozone monitoring and sea surface temperature measurements.

NOAA Satellite and Information Services also operates three data centers, that house global data bases in climatology, oceanography, solid earth geophysics, marine geology and geophysics, solar-terrestrial physics and paleoclimatology.

The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.


NOAA Satellite and Information Services:

Artist’s rendering of the new Satellite Operations Center: