NSF awards $1.12 billion contract for its Antarctic Program

NSF awards $1.12 billion contract for its Antarctic Program

Raytheon plans to set up round-the-clock satellite communications service for research stations

By Frank Tiboni

GCN Staff

The National Science Foundation has switched to a new vendor for its Antarctic Program.

NSF recently awarded a 10-year, $1.12 billion contract to Raytheon Co. to provide scientific, operations and maintenance support for the program, which conducts research near the South Pole.

'We chose Raytheon based on technical merit, past performance and price,' said Bill Bryant, chief of NSF's Contracts Branch and the contracting officer for the program.
NSF had used Antarctic Support Associates Inc. to manage the South Pole operation. The agency chose Raytheon over the Englewood, Colo., company and another bidder, Bryant said.

Stations and vessels

Under the contract, which has a five-year base period and a five-year option, Raytheon will provide everything needed to sustain year-round programs at three research stations and on two research vessels. The contract has a significant information technology and communications systems support component, Bryant said.

Raytheon intends to improve the program's communications infrastructure. The research stations do not have round-the-clock operations because they do not have continuous lines of sight to geosynchronous satellites, said Tom Yelvington, Raytheon's program manager for the Antarctic contract.

'We're going to use our IT and communications expertise to give 24-7 communications, using a high-bandwidth satellite for communications links at or around the South Pole,' Yelvington said.

The Antarctic Program made headlines in July when NSF's Office of Polar Programs air-dropped videoconferencing equipment so an ill scientist working for the program could communicate with doctors in the United States [GCN, July 26, Page 8].

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