NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) awarded a $1.09 billion contract to Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] to produce Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES-R), NASA announced.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. of Denver will supply two satellites under the basic portion of the contract, with two possible options, each for one additional satellite, or a total of four.

Lockheed would get the full $1.09 billion if all options are exercised.

In winning the rich prize, Lockheed beat out competition from The Boeing Co. [BA]. Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC] also had won an earlier program definition GOES-R pact, and had submitted a proposal for GOES-R.

This is the second recent major win for Lockheed in NASA competitions. The space agency earlier chose Lockheed to build the next-generation U.S. spaceship, Orion, which will go to low Earth orbit and then, by the end of the next decade, to the moon.

Boeing was the prime contractor for the current series of geosynchronous environmental satellites, GOES N, O and P.

Lockheed will design, develop and deliver the GOES-R series of spacecraft and provide pre-launch, launch and post-launch support.

The first launch of the GOES-R series is scheduled for 2015. Lockheed will design and develop the spacecraft in its Newtown, Pa., Sunnyvale, Calif., and Denver facilities.

These satellites provide a platform for Earth-viewing, solar-viewing and space-viewing instruments. The data from the instruments are used for weather forecasting and environmental, space and solar science.

The new satellites will improve existing weather and environmental monitoring capabilities.

Some members of Congress have been concerned about continuity of satellite data in the environmental, space and other areas, because of delays and cost overruns in a separate program, the National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS). However, it recently has shown progress in developing NPOESS sensors.

“NASA is excited to be NOAA’s partner in this next generation GOES development and we look forward to delivering an outstanding observatory for their operational use,” said George Morrow, director of flight projects for Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

“GOES-R, with its highly advanced instruments and sensors, will provide about 50 times more weather and climate data than is available with NOAA’s current fleet of geostationary satellites,” said Mary Kicza, assistant administrator for NOAA Satellite and Information Service in Silver Spring, Md. “The American public will see real life-saving benefits from this satellite system with more timely forecasts and warnings for severe weather.”

NOAA funds, operates and manages the GOES program. NASA, through Goddard, manages the acquisition of GOES-R spacecraft and instruments for NOAA.