NOAA 99-40
Contact: Pat Viets


A $91 million contract has been awarded to Ball Aerospace & Technologies
Corporation of Boulder, Colo., to develop a suite of satellite instruments that will significantly improve the accuracy of Earth's ozone measurements, Commerce Secretary William M. Daley announced today.

The contract will be followed by others later this year and next year for development of a series of satellite instruments that will improve short-term weather forecasts and long-term climate prediction, Daley said.

They will be part of the administration's National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) program, a key element of Vice President Gore's National Performance Review initiative aimed at making government less costly, more efficient, and more responsive to public needs.

Daley said the NPOESS program, once operational in the next decade, will save the taxpayers about $1.8 billion over its lifetime.

"NPOESS marks the most significant change in U.S. operational remote sensing since the launch of the first weather satellite in 1960," Daley said. "It heralds a new unified path for the United States to develop, acquire, manage and operate environmental satellites. "

The contract was awarded May 14 by the tri-agency Integrated Program Office, which consists of components of NOAA, the U. S. Air Force, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The contract, for the design and fabrication of the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS), totals approximately $91 million, including options. The contract will ultimately produce three OMPS units that will collect data to permit the calculation and mapping of the vertical and horizontal distributions of ozone in the earth's atmosphere.

The NPOESS program represents a major step toward the merger of military and civilian operational meteorological satellites into a single, national system. Once operational in the next decade, the NPOESS will satisfy both civil and national security requirements for space-based, remotely sensed environmental data.

"With the award of the OMPS contract, the NPOESS program is well along the path to creating a high performance, integrated polar satellite system that will cost less, be more responsive to user demands, and deliver more capability than those in use today," said Captain Craig Nelson, NOAA Corps, who is executive director of the Integrated Program Office.

The NPOESS sensor suites will deliver higher resolution and more accurate atmospheric, oceanographic, terrestrial, and solar-geophysical data to support improved accuracy in short-term weather forecasts and warnings and severe storm warnings, as well as serve the data continuity requirements of the climate community for improved climate prediction and assessment.

The 1994 Presidential Decision Directive that established the NPOESS Integrated Program Office charged NOAA with overall responsibility for the converged system, as well as satellite operations and interactions with the civil and international user communities. The U.S. Air Force has the lead agency responsibility for major systems acquisitions, including launch support. NASA has primary responsibility for facilitating the development and incorporation of new cost-effective technologies into the converged
system. Representatives from all three agencies participated in the NPOESS OMPS source selection, which was held in Silver Spring, Md.