IP network to support next-gen satellites

AT&T Government Solutions of Vienna, Va., has been awarded a $10 million subcontract to build an advanced IP ground network that will support a new multiagency weather satellite program.

The virtual private network will distribute meteorological and Earth observation data from the National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System by the end of the decade. It will use Multiprotocol Label Switching for enhanced performance.

NPOESS is a $45 billion joint program of NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Defense Department. The new satellites are scheduled to begin replacing separate military and civilian constellations by 2009, but operational ground systems are needed by 2005 to prepare for the transition to the next-generation program.

Raytheon Co. is developing NPOESS ground systems under a subcontract to prime contractor Northrop Grumman Space Technology, a division of Northrop Grumman Corp.

The network will deliver data to four U.S. processing centers: NASA's satellite ground station hub in White Sands, N.M.; NOAA's Satellite Data Processing and Distribution in Suitland, Md.; Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.; and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

MPLS helps overcome some problems with IP networking for critical core and enterprise networks, by including traffic engineering, bandwidth management and quality of service. The protocols build virtual circuits, or label switched paths, through a network, and labels attached to packets facilitate delivery.

NPOESS will merge a wide variety of data, including images of clouds and oceans, temperature measurements and solar observations.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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