Spaceflight Insider

2 new JPSS spacecraft to be produced under NASA’s Rapid III contract

An artist's depiction of JPSS-2 satellite on orbit. It is scheduled to launch in 2021. Image Credit: Orbital ATK

An artist’s depiction of JPSS-2 satellite on orbit. It is scheduled to launch in 2021. Image Credit: Orbital ATK

Two additional Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) spacecraft are now set to be constructed by Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital ATK for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NASA has chosen to activate elements of the Rapid Spacecraft Acquisition III (Rapid III) contract to produce the JPSS-3 and -4 spacecraft. The contract is worth an estimated $460 million to Orbital ATK. NASA said the period of performance should extend through 2026. These two spacecraft will be produced by the the company’s facilities in Gilbert, Arizona.

The first satellite in the constellation, JPSS-1 (now NOAA-20), was built by Ball Aerospace and launched in November 2017 atop a Delta II rocket. Under the current plan, JPSS-2, which is also being built by Orbital ATK, is expected to be delivered in 2021, while the third and fourth should be delivered in 2023 and 2026 respectively, Orbital ATK said.

“Orbital ATK is making excellent progress on JPSS-2, and the program team is ready to begin work on the additional two JPSS satellites,” Steve Krein, vice president of Science and Environmental Satellite Programs at Orbital ATK, said in a company news release. “The company has an extensive history of delivering successful science and environmental satellites for our customers, and we are honored to continue building on this legacy with the JPSS satellites.”

Under the Rapid III agreement, Orbital ATK is tasked with designing, developing, integrating, testing as well as providing post-delivery support for these two additional vehicles.

The JPSS series of spacecraft are used to gather global, meteorological, oceanographic data as well as multi-spectral radiometry and other information services. The satellites conduct remote sensing of land, sea as well as atmospheric conditions. This data helps to predict weather conditions and is part of a constant review of the environment to help not only understand Earth’s climate, but also the planet’s oceans and coasts.

For these spacecraft, NASA acquires the launch services, flight systems as well as any necessary ground systems assets. NOAA provides the funding for the production and fielding of the constellation.

“The successful Critical Design Review for the JPSS-2/JPSS-3/JPSS-4 spacecraft held in October 2017 paved the way for Orbital ATK to move forward with the manufacturing of JPSS-3 starting in Q4 2019 and JPSS-4 in 2021 following the NOAA/NASA GSFC contract option exercise,” JPSS Program Director, Daren Iverson told SpaceFlight Insider. “Both spacecraft are identical to the JPSS-2 satellite currently in production and scheduled for delivery in 2021. The Gilbert, Arizona, satellite manufacturing facility where all three JPSS satellites will be built was designed for multiple vehicles to be processed simultaneously.”




Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

⚠ Commenting Rules

Post Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *