Northrop Grumman has built an electrical engineering model test bed (EEMTB) for the national polar-orbiting operational environmental satellite system (NPOESS) to reduce risk during the spacecraft’s development.

The satellite is being built as the next-generation, low-earth orbiting weather and climate-monitoring system to greatly improve the timeliness and accuracy of information for both civil and defence needs.

The NPOESS constellation will provide atmospheric, oceanographic, terrestrial and solar-geophysical data that will be used to improve short-term weather forecasts as well as long-range weather and climate forecast models.

The EEMTB is an electrical model of the NPOESS satellite consisting of subsystem engineering models and sensor engineering development units integrated in a flight-like electrical configuration.

The model will enable continuous real-time, closed-loop testing to validate the spacecraft design and reduce risk during integration and test.

Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems sector vice president and NPOESS programme manager Dave Vandervoet said the test bed marks NPOESS’s transition to the final phase of spacecraft development.

“We completed the EEMTB early, ahead of spacecraft integration and test, giving us ample opportunity to find and fix problems to ensure successful satellite integration and test,” he said.

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“The spacecraft is now at a higher level of maturity for integration and test than is typical at this stage.”

A NPOESS preparatory project will be launched in 2010.