NOAA, Army Corps of Engineers to Build Alaska Satellite Operations Facility

First NOAA Project Funded through Recovery Act

June 5, 2009

NOAA, working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has selected Alcan Builders Inc. of Fairbanks, Alaska, to construct a new NOAA satellite operations facility in Fairbanks. The 20,000-square foot facility will replace the existing Command and Data Acquisition Station building, which opened in 1961.

The contract is valued at $11.7 million. NOAA will use $9 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and additional funding provided by the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 to complete this project.

SARSAT System overview.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

Once finished in September 2010, the new facility will be used by personnel who gather satellite data used by NOAA scientists to track severe weather and solar storms, and better understand climate change. Emergency beacon distress signals detected by NOAA satellites are also transmitted to the Fairbanks operation facility and then forwarded to the U.S. Coast Guard or U.S. Air Force, which, along with NOAA, are part of the Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System, or SARSAT.

“This is a vital technological upgrade since the current facility is not capable of meeting our future needs,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA Administrator. “This contract also demonstrates the administration’s commitment to create jobs through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”

NOAA’s Office of the Chief Administrative Officer and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District, will jointly manage the construction effort. NOAA 's Satellite and Information Service will operate the new building when construction is finished.

In addition to the Fairbanks Command and Data Acquisition Station, NOAA also manages a similar data acquisition station in Wallops, Va.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.