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Harris to maintain satellite ground system
by Staff Writers
Washington (UPI) Nov 17, 2011

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

The U.S. Air Force is contracting Harris Corp. to maintain ground systems for defense meteorological satellites -- systems that Harris helped set up and upgrade over four decades.

Weather satellites deployed for military uses are believed to be in extensive use amid conflicts in Afghanistan and elsewhere and U.S. presence in conflict zones and areas requiring routine operations.

Harris said it was awarded the $25 million contract for the system for one year with four one-year options.

Harris was the original system developer and has had more than 40 years of experience on the program. It will also be delivering technical engineering and support for the defense meteorological satellite program ground system.

"Harris' deep knowledge of this program was gained through over 40 years of experience delivering engineering and support for the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program," Harris IT Services President John Heller said.

He said Harris will continue to apply expertise on the contract "to ensure the program's ground system remains fully operational and compliant with requirements for years to come."

The Harris team includes subcontractor Lockheed Martin Services Inc. The contract was awarded under the U.S. General Services Administration's Alliant contract vehicle.

Harris IT Services include the design, deployment and operation of secure communication systems and information networks with optimal reliability and affordability for high-profile customers in government and commercial markets. The company says "well-credentialed professionals" deliver expertise in program management, enterprise services management and information assurance to clients across the globe.

Harris has headquarters in Melbourne, Fla., and earned $6 billion last year. It employs more than 16,000 employees, including nearly 7,000 engineers and scientists.

Weather watching for defense and civilian purposes is a growing business. Last month a Ball Aerospace-built ozone mapping and profiling satellite was launched from the USAF Vandenberg base.

The satellite was put into a sun-synchronous polar orbit by a Delta II rocket and will measure both global climate and key weather data.

The satellite's five science instruments will make critical measurements to provide long-term climate projections and data to improve short-term weather forecasts.

Among these is the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite. Officials said NPP will measure how much ozone is in Earth's atmosphere and how the ozone concentration varies with altitude.

"We are confident NASA's long-standing Earth-observation records will dramatically improve with the successful launch of NPP," Ball Aerospace President and Chief Executive Officer David L. Taylor said.

NPP has a five-year mission life and a seven-year design life and will function as a bridge between the NASA Earth Observing System and a new constellation of weather monitoring spacecraft known as the Joint Polar Satellite System.

Weather satellites are critical to assessment by businesses, emergency responders and the military.

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