Sunday, July 14, 2024

Northrop-Ball Aerospace team to develop Polar-Orbiting Next-Gen Missile Warning satellites

Northrop Grumman and Ball Aerospace will design and develop the two payloads for the U.S. Space Force’s Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared Polar (NGP) program.

The U.S. Space Force awarded Northrop Grumman a $2.37 billion contract for the first phase of the NGP program. The Northrop-Ball Aerospace team will design and develop the sensor payloads for a pair of polar-orbiting satellites intended to warn of ballistic and hypersonic missile launches at Northrop Grumman’s site in Azusa, California.

The team will also perform systems engineering, flight hardware and ground system design and development, and risk reduction in support of a critical design review. The capabilities of the NGP system address emerging threats and resiliency features, allowing the warfighter to operate through contested scenarios should they extend to space. The company expects to receive a production contract in mid-2025.

The two NGP satellites will operate in highly elliptical orbits and include sensors to detect and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles. Added to that will be an enhanced communication system that transmits mission data to the ground, allowing decision-makers to identify infrared heat signatures of incoming threats and resiliency features that reduce vulnerabilities to counter-space and cyberattacks.

“NGP combines Northrop Grumman’s proven experience in missile warning and defense with Ball Aerospace’s expertise in optical sensors and mission data processing,” said Sarah Willoughby, vice president, overhead persistent infrared and geospatial systems, Northrop Grumman. “Our team’s solution for NGP will assure continuous coverage of the northern hemisphere – especially the critical Arctic region – to protect against incoming threats.”