As the U.S. Air Force surveys the market to identify contractors who could develop electro-optical infrared sensors to meet Defense Department’s weather requirements, Raytheon is highlighting the capabilities of its existing sensor, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), currently flying on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite and NOAA-20, known prior to launch as Joint Polar Satellite System-1.
“The VIIRS sensor today was built to meet all of the DoD’s weather needs for electro-optical infrared,” said Wallis Laughrey, Raytheon Space Systems vice president. “It’s currently satisfying those needs just not in the early morning orbit, which is particularly important to the Department of Defense because of timeliness.”
The Air Force has two initiatives underway to enhance its ability to monitor weather using electro-optical infrared imagers. It is working with the Pentagon’s Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) office to launch a small satellite around 2022 to bridge the gap created by the end of Defense Meteorological Satellite-19 operations.
The Air Force also issued a Request for Information in November, asking industry what it could offer to meet the Defense Department’s requirements for space-based monitoring of clouds and weather imagery in theaters of operation.
“The system solutions ...