Ball Aerospace [BLL] recently performed a key milestone by powering on the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS-1) satellite for the first time, according to a company statement.

JPSS-1 is the nation’s next polar-orbiting, environmental satellite, scheduled to launch in 2017. Powering on means the satellite is moving toward environmental testing by early 2016 with on-time delivery scheduled for late 2016. 

NOAA's first Joint Polar Satellite System satellite (JPSS-1). Photo: Ball Aerospace.
NOAA’s first Joint Polar Satellite System satellite (JPSS-1). Photo: Ball Aerospace.

Ball completed the integration of four of five JPSS-1 flight instruments earlier this year. Ball spokeswoman Roz Brown said Friday in an email that the only instrument remaining to be integrated is the advanced technology microwave sounder (ATMS), which is expected to be integrated by December.

Brown said the company integrates ATMS later to reduce risk and that “everything” performed very well without it. The four integrated JPSS-1 instruments are: Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES), Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS), Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) and Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) .

When launched, JPSS-1 will perform collection of operational polar-orbiting weather and climate data currently provided by the NOAA/NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite, also developed by Ball. On orbit since 2011, Suomi NPP collects science-quality atmospheric, oceanographic and land surface measurements that are critical for United States operational missions.

Under contract to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Md., Ball is responsible for designing and building the JPSS-1 spacecraft, building the Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) instrument. This measures levels of stratospheric ozone that protects the earth’s surface from damaging ultraviolet (UV) light.

Ball is also responsible for integrating all five instruments and performing satellite-level testing and launch support. Brown, the spokeswoman, said satellite-level testing is scheduled for January through August 2016. NASA manages the acquisition of the flight, launch services and portions of the ground segment on behalf of NOAA.

NASA issued Orbital ATK [OA] a stop work notice on April 8 after Ball protested the agency’s contract award for JPSS-2. NASA in March awarded Orbital ATK a $253 million contract for JPSS-2, with a $130 million option for JPSS-3 and an $87 million option for JPSS-4 (Defense Daily, April 24).