After years of torment, Raytheon’s Visible Infrared Imager/Radiometer Suite (Viirs) is finally preparing for its entry into the thermal vacuum chamber for testing next month.
Raytheon's enginneering and development unit for Viirs was readied for its thermal vacuum testing nearly three years ago. photo credit: Northrop Grumman
Viirs is one sensor that will fly on the National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (Npoess), a next-generation weather satellite program managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and the U.S. Air Force.
Viirs has long been the pacing item for launch of the Npoess Preparatory Project (NPP), a pathfinder satellite that is now slated to launch next year.
The sensor is back on track and expected to be delivered to integration onto NPP as early as September, says William Hart, vice president of space systems for Raytheon. The thermal vacuum testing schedule will take about 90 days, he says.
Npoess, managed by prime integrator Northrop Grumman, has suffered schedule and cost problems.
Last year, the government assigned a NASA engineer to take a post on site at Raytheon’s facility managing Viirs. This was in part to better oversee the problems developing the sensor, says one government official. Hart adds that the on-site engineer is able to coordinate with the varied needs of NOAA, NASA and the Pentagon.
Npoess, which will boost after the NPP, is expected to launch in 2013.