Raytheon to Design Next Generation Weather Satellite Prototype for U.S. Space Force

Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business, will provide an initial prototype system design for the Next Generation Electro-Optical Infrared Weather Satellite for the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (USSF SMC).

The satellite will provide the Department of Defense with Theater Weather Imaging and Cloud Characterization (TWICC) capabilities.

The DoD uses systems that collect and analyze Earth observations to report and predict the weather. The TWICC satellite will improve the data output from those systems, helping operators make better-informed decisions on how to execute missions.

“Our system will gather all the info needed to not only build an accurate weather forecast, but to really understand what’s going on in the atmosphere – both of which are essential to planning and executing a mission,” said Wallis Laughrey, vice president of Space and C2 Systems at RI&S. “Understanding clouds and cloud movement could be used for things as simple as route planning for air-to-air refueling or to know where clouds might be covering an area of interest.”

Raytheon Intelligence & Space will design TWICC in just eight months by leveraging technology and expertise from current weather systems like the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer.

The program will be awarded in three phases. The RI&S contract is through the initial prototype system design review. The second phase is final design review and the third is build, integration and launch.

Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) Weather System (EWS)

The Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) Weather System (EWS) will continue the global EO/IR weather coverage currently provided by the aging Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) constellation.

EO/IR Weather System (EWS) Notional Distributed Architecture
Notional Distributed Architecture of Electro Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) Weather System (EWS) Program. (Photo via U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center (USSF SMC))

The DMSP’s mission to provide global terrestrial cloud forecasting and theater weather imagery data to U.S. warfighters, for timely mission operations planning and execution. The DMSP satellites “see” such environmental features as clouds, bodies of water, snow, fire, and pollution in the visual and infrared spectra. Scanning radiometers record information which can help determine cloud type and height, land and surface water temperatures, water currents, ocean surface features, ice, and snow. Communicated to ground-based terminals, the data is processed, interpreted by meteorologists, and ultimately used in planning and conducting U.S. military operations worldwide.

DMSP Block 5D-2 Satellite
Artist’s concept of DMSP (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program) Block 5D-2 satellite in orbit. The Block 5D-2 version was launched 9 times during 1982-1997. (USAF photo)

The DoD plans to rapidly field first operational EWS satellites by 2025 after retiring the DMSP constellation. EWS will provide critical environmental data and forecasting of line of sight strategies for warfighter missions.

The future operational EWS system will include a distributed multi-satellite constellation and ground segment to support DOD Space-Based Environmental Monitoring (SBEM) capability needs for Cloud Characterization and Theater Weather Imagery.



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