US Space Forces issues contract for ballistic and hypersonic missile defence sensor payloads
Northrop Grumman and Ball Aerospace are to design and develop the two mission payloads for the US Space Force to use in its Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) Polar (NGP) missile-warning satellite programme.
Sarah Willoughby, VP for overhead persistent IR and geospatial systems at Northrop Grumman, said the NGP payloads will blend optical sensors and mission data processing from Ball Aerospace with Northrop Grumman’s ‘proven experience in missile warning” and defence.
She added: ‘Our team’s solution for NGP will assure continuous coverage of the northern hemisphere – especially the critical Arctic region – to protect against incoming threats.’
Northrop Grumman won a $2.37 billion contract in May 2020 for sensors and payloads in Phase One of NGP.
The two NGP satellites will operate in highly elliptical orbits, using IR sensors to detect and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles.
Other NGP infrastructure will include an enhanced communication system for transmitting data about IR heat signatures of incoming threats.
In parallel with the NGP effort by Northrop Grumman and Ball Aerospace, three Next Generation OPIR geosynchronous-orbit (GEO) missile warning satellites are being developed by Lockheed Martin with payloads from Raytheon.
The first Next Generation OPIR satellite is scheduled for launch in 2025.
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