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PHOENIX — The U.S. military's highest priority weather satellite, a spacecraft requested by U.S. Strategic Command to observe clouds and theaters of operations, is on hold after NASA rescinded the contract award.
In September the Space Rapid Capabilities Office, working with the NASA Ames Research Center's small spacecraft prototyping office, awarded Sierra Nevada Corp. a $119 million contract to develop a satellite to gather cloud and theater imagery until the service finds a long-term solution to fulfilling its weather requirements. In October, Space Systems Loral protested the award and NASA rescinded it.
NASA - Air - Force - Program - ORS-8
Now, NASA is closed and the Air Force will discuss what to do next on the program, known as ORS-8, when the government shutdown ends, Ralph Stoffler, Air Force weather director, told SpaceNews.
ORS-8 competitors declined to comment on the protest or award, which was made through an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract (IDIQ) vehicle called Small Spacecraft Prototyping Engineering Development and Integration (SSPEDI).
Dario - Zamarian - SSL - Group - President
However, Dario Zamarian, SSL group president, said by email, "A Maxar Technologies company, SSL is honored to be one of the SSPEDI IDIQ primes and looks forward to supporting the U.S. Air Force's roadmap for space-based weather observing missions. Based on our long history of delivering reliable satellite systems, SSL has assembled a team of experts with strong credentials in meteorological systems."
Weather monitoring and forecasting are key to successful military operations but the Air Force has struggled for years to replace aging weather satellites. Now, the service has plans in place to update its constellation, but Stoffler said he will continue to worry until the task is completed.
Theater - Weather - Clouds
"Theater weather and clouds are the most critical...
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