TRW to merge satellite system

Launching a major integration job, TRW Inc. recently won a $4.5 billion contract to build and deploy a national environmental satellite system that merges military and civilian programs at three federal agencies.

The procurement covers the acquisitions and operations phase of the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS), the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Defense Department and NASA announced Aug. 23.

NPOESS is aimed at improving short-term weather forecasting and long-term climate control. The joint effort, which will provide polar-orbiting remote sensing capability, also is expected to save taxpayers about $1.6 billion over its lifetime, according to Conrad Lautenbacher Jr., undersecretary of Commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

The agencies formed a NPOESS Integrated Program Office to manage the initiative after President Clinton combined the satellite programs in 1994. With the office's direction, TRW will move the project forward.

The company previously won one of two contracts to help design NPOESS. Lockheed Martin Missiles&Space took the other.

As the prime for the acquisitions and operations phase, TRW will handle overall system design and development, system engineering and integration, acquisition of instruments, and assembly and test of the spacecraft, according to a company news release. Under a contract valued at $1 billion teammate Raytheon Co. will supply the ground system, including command, control and communications, mission data processing, and system engineering support.

"This award is an example of NASA, NOAA and the Department of Defense working together to better the return on our research and development investment to the American people, one of the challenges put forth in the president's management agenda," NASA Deputy Administrator Fred Gregory said in a release.

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