Nasa has awarded the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Space Weather contract to spacecraft components manufacturer Ball Aerospace, for the Space Weather Follow On-Lagrange 1 (SWFO-L1) spacecraft.

The $96.9m order is part of the Rapid Spacecraft Acquisition III (Rapid III) contract, under which Ball will design and fabricate the SWFO-L1 spacecraft bus, as well as integrate the government-furnished instruments.

It will also conduct satellite-level testing, support and training of the flight operations team, in-orbit satellite check-out and mission operations support.

The period of performance is through 31 March 2025.

SpaceNews quoted Ball Aerospace Civil Space vice-president and general manager Makenzie Lystrup as saying by email:  “With the SWFO-L1 spacecraft, Ball Aerospace is leveraging our experience building NOAA operational weather satellites such as NOAA-20.

“We are excited for the opportunity to continue our work with NOAA and NASA with this latest mission, which will provide the nation with critical information to help predict and forecast space weather in order to protect life and property.”

Planned to launch in 2024 as a rideshare with the Nasa Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe, the SWFO-L1 has been designed to collect solar wind data and coronal imagery supporting NOAA’s mission to monitor and forecast space weather events.

Nasa is the flight system procurement agent for NOAA’s Space Weather Follow-On program, programme while the space agency’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland leads this acquisition.

In April, Ball Aerospace successfully handed over cryostat, a low-heat leak tank containing liquid helium, to the University of Arizona. The company built the tank for Nasa’s Galactic/Extragalactic Ultralong-Duration Balloon Spectroscopic Terahertz Observatory (GUSTO).