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Key NPOESS sensor starts thermal vacuum testing

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., May 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- A key sensor for the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) has started its final and most critical environmental test at Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN), subcontractor on the program to Northrop Grumman Corporation. 

NPOESS is the nation’s next generation low Earth orbiting operational weather and climate monitoring system and will provide timely and essential data to civilian and military users through 2026.

A photo accompanying this release is available at: http://www.raytheon.com/capabilities/products/viirs/.

The Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) flight unit was placed in a thermal vacuum chamber, where it will be subject to the extreme hot and cold cycles typical of the space environment to determine its flight worthiness. Thermal vacuum testing will be conducted during nearly 100 days to ensure the sensor will operate in space as designed.

“The NPOESS team has put a tremendous effort into developing this complex sensor,” said Dave Vandervoet, vice president and NPOESS program manager for Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems sector. “This final test will demonstrate how VIIRS operates in a simulated space environment and verify sensor performance against key requirements. We’ll have a solid understanding of VIIRS performance at the conclusion of thermal vacuum testing.”

“As we enter this final phase of testing, the program is on track to deliver the VIIRS sensor this fall,” said Bill Hart, vice president for Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems business. “During the thermal vacuum test, the sensor will encounter the extraordinary temperature fluctuations it will experience in space. Testing of the sensor thus far shows it to be performing as expected and producing outstanding results.”

Working together, the NPOESS Integrated Program Office, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon have conducted a comprehensive series of tests on VIIRS’ engineering development unit (EDU) and first flight unit over the past several years. The tests have included:

  • Thermal vacuum testing of the EDU;
  • Integrating the EDU onto the NPOESS Preparatory Project spacecraft to check electrical and mechanical interfaces;
  • Conducting early space-to-ground interface testing on the EDU to demonstrate data flowed through the sensor to the ground processing system;
  • Thermal vacuum testing of the cyroradiator in Flight Unit 1;
  • Vibration testing of the Flight 1 hardware;
  • Ambient electrical testing of the Flight Unit 1;
  • Electromagnetic testing of Flight Unit 1.

VIIRS will collect data on atmospheric conditions, Earth radiation, ocean color and surface temperature in nearly two dozen spectral bands, with high spatial resolution. VIIRS will produce operational data in color instead of black and white, enabling military and civilian users to distinctly see features such as aircraft contrails and dust storms that are challenging to detect with current sensors.

Raytheon Company, with 2008 sales of $23.2 billion, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 87 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as a broad range of mission support services. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 73,000 people worldwide.

Contact: John Barksdale



SOURCE: Raytheon Company

Web site: http://www.raytheon.com/

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