Orbital ATK secures contract to build two JPSS spacecraft for NOAA

 

Orbital ATK will be building two more Joint Polar Satellite Systems (JPSS) spacecraft for NASA’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The company announced the new order in late May.

The company would now build three spacecraft; JPSS-2, JPSS-3, and JPSS-4 for NASA. The spacecraft will provide important weather forecasting data. The contract is worth $460 million and will extend to 2026. NASA expects the first spacecraft in 2021, the next in 2023, and the last in 2026.

Orbital ATK would build the spacecraft on the LEOstar-3 platform. The company has developed three platforms that are cost-effective and reliable. The LEOstar-3 is one of them, and the other two are GEOstar-3 and ESPAstar-3. 

Orbital ATK has a history is building spacecraft for both scientific and defense missions. The firm has produced over 80 spacecraft for this purpose in the last 30 years. 

The space firm has other contracts which include resupplying the international space station. Orbital ATK has an existing contract with NASA which tasks the firm to embark on resupply missions to the ISS. The first resupply mission will end in 2020. 

The firm has secured yet another resupply mission contract that will begin in 2020 and end in 2024. Currently, two commercial space firms are in charge of resupplying the ISS; Orbital ATK and SpaceX. 

In the next set, NASA has added another space firm, Sierra Nevada. Early this year, an audit revealed that NASA would pay more for less cargo space in the next supply mission contract. According to the release, SpaceX has increased its cost leading to an increase in total cost.

In the same release, the audit revealed that Orbital ATK had reduced the cost of its charges on the cargo.

Orbital ATK made a recent supply trip to the ISS. The company launched the Cygnus spacecraft aboard the Antares 230 rocket. The rocket lifted off from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The spacecraft also carried new research materials for scientists at the station. 

Scientists aboard the ISS will conduct experiments on emergency navigation, ultra-cold atom research, and DNA sequencing. 

There are also big things happening at Orbital ATK. Northrop Grumman Corporation is acquiring Orbital ATK $9.2 billion. Northrop Grumman Corporation will pay $7.8 billion in cash and the rest in net debt. The two firms expect to complete the transaction by the end of the first quarter.