ITT Exelis advanced geo weather instrument passes critical test

The ITT Exelis (NYSE: XLS)-developed Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) has successfully completed thermal vacuum testing. The ABI was exposed to harsh space-like conditions with hundreds of degrees of temperature variation in Rochester, N.Y., marking the second part of its environmental testing regime.

“Thermal vacuum testing is a critical step in demonstrating that all design requirements have been met so the ABI can reliably spend years in space sending vital weather data and images back,” said Eric Webster, vice president of weather systems at Exelis. “We anticipate an on-time delivery later this year for a 2015 scheduled spacecraft launch.”

The first phase of environmental testing for the Exelis imager took place late last year in Fort Wayne, Ind., where it underwent vibration testing, simulating vehicle launch to ensure the ABI can withstand the rigors of its journey into space.

The ABI is part of the next-generation Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R, or GOES-R, program with NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The satellites are positioned 22,300 miles above Earth providing meteorological and environmental data and images. The program is a follow-on to the current GOES system used by NOAA’s National Weather Service, which provides weather forecasting and imagery for local television reports and researchers, and for which Exelis also provides the imagers.

“The ABI will provide better data to track the development of life-threatening storms earlier,” Webster said. “It will make images available to forecasters every 30 seconds rather than every 7.5 minutes today. Also, for the first time, it will allow NOAA to pinpoint and track a specific storm while still collecting data and images from across the country.”

Exelis has built every imager and every sounder for NOAA’s GOES satellites since 1994 and was awarded the contract to build the ABI instruments in 2004. Exelis has built more than 60 meteorological payloads for the U.S. government and international customers during the past 40 years. Exelis is on contract to build four ABI instruments for NOAA and NASA, two for Japan and one for South Korea. This long heritage contributed to the U.S. Air Force’s recent decision to award Exelis a contract to develop a final concept for an affordable, low-risk weather imaging sensor.

Source: ITT Exelis
Date: May 17, 2013