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Three flight models (FMs) of the reference radiometer of the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission have been developed and tested. SMOS is a joint mission of the European Space Agency, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales of France, and Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology of Spain. The reference radiometer is a noise injection radiometer (NIR); the NIR subsystem FM has been developed by Elektrobit Microwave, Ltd., in collaboration with the Laboratory of Space Technology of Helsinki University of Technology, which has acted as a subcontractor. The NIR subsystem will be integrated into the microwave imaging radiometer using aperture synthesis (MIRAS) payload in 2006. MIRAS will be the sole instrument onboard the SMOS satellite. MIRAS has 66 total power receiver units (light and cost-effective front end) and three NIR units. The purpose of the NIR subsystem is 1) to provide precise measurement of the average brightness temperature scene for absolute calibration of the MIRAS image map, 2) to measure the noise temperature level of the internal active calibration sources of MIRAS [referred to as the calibration subsystem (CAS)], and 3) to form interferometer baselines, so-called mixed baselines, with the regular receiver units. The performance of the NIR is a decisive factor of overall MIRAS performance. In this paper, we present the design solutions for the NIR FMs, which enable the achievement of the mission goals set for the NIR subsystem. The results of the NIR test campaign, proving that the performance and environmental requirements are fulfilled, are also presented, and the outcome of the ground calibration campaign is analyzed. Furthermore, the orbital calibration scheme is depicted; the calibration scheme enables the NIR to measure its targets with precision.