Northrop Grumman wins $45.6 million contract to launch Space Force weather smallsat

Northrop Grumman has won $45.6 million contract from the Space Force to launch a weather smallsat, using its Minotaur-4 rocket that was formerly a military ICBM.

The weather satellite, built by General Atomics, is part of an effort by the military to stop building its big expensive and continuously delayed weather satellites and instead buy the services from the private sector. This three year demonstration mission will prove whether General Atomics’ weather satellite can do the job. The Space Force has also contracted with Orion Space Systems to test its own weather satellite in orbit.

For Northrop Grumman, this contract helps keep its launch business alive while it awaits a new American engine for its Antares rocket, replacing the Russian engines it has previously depended on.

General Atomics wins Air Force contract to build technology test lunar satellite

General Atomics yesterday announced that it has been awarded an Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) contract to build a satellite to test a variety of technologies in near lunar space.

The AFRL Oracle spacecraft program is intended to demonstrate advanced techniques to detect and track objects in the region near the Moon that cannot be viewed optically from the Earth or from satellites in traditional orbits such as geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO). The anticipated launch date for the Oracle spacecraft is late 2025.

While this is good business for General Atomics, the company is not selling its product to the Air Force, but building what the Air Force wants, making the spacecraft government owned. This is how the space industry functioned in the United States for almost a half century after Apollo, generally accomplishing little for great cost. Much better in the long run if the military bought this kind of product from private companies, who developed it for profit and for sale not just to the military.