Ball Aerospace is creating a new satellite called Weather System Follow-on-Microwave (WSF-M) for the U.S. Space Force. The satellite will be used to monitor and gather data on ocean surface vector winds, tropical cyclone intensity and other environmental information. The U.S. Space Force is also discussing with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to replace a geostationary weather satellite over the Indian Ocean. Read on for a jam-packed column of Space Force news!
Representatives of the virtual reality platform creator SimX announced a nice win for their company on Friday, January 13: namely, a $1.7 million contract with the Space Force to provide its Virtual Advancement of Learning for Operational Readiness (VALOR) program. VALOR will design the immersive training program for astronaut recovery and space launch missions.
To be developed under terms of the contract are various space components and medical scenarios based on the Pre-Hospital Space Medicine Care Course (PHSMCC) into the SimX Virtual Reality Medical Simulation System (VRMSS), including ocean personnel recovery missions (depicted at right).
SimX CTO Karthik V. Sarma, Ph.D., stated that “The mission of the VALOR program is to adapt VR medical simulation training to enable high-quality, repeatable, and accessible clinical training for any scenario.”
Specific to the USSF/VALOR contract, Brett Maney of the DoD Human Space Flight Support Office stated that “The mission impact of this project will be increased overall medical capability for global rescue forces responding to Human Space Flight contingency landings. These capabilities are critical for ensuring the highest standard of care is provided…”
The virtual training program is being developed in collaboration with and tested alongside the USAF 24th Special Operations Wing and 1st Air Force, Detachment 3, Human Space Flight Support Operations. In November 2022, SimX had announced completion of enhanced VR medical simulation training capabilities for battlefield tactical combat casualty care (TCCC) for the USAF. Source: VR Scout, SimX PR.
The head of U.S. Space Force said this week that the war in Ukraine has emphasized the “criticality of space in modern warfare” and said that commercial systems will continue to play a significant role in conflicts as U.S. forces seek speed of information and rapid targeting advantage by implementing the Pentagons Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) construct.
Chief of Space Operations Gen. B. Chance “Salty” Saltman told the U.S. Space Force Association in a Jan. 12 virtual forum that he was averse to “drawing too many lessons learned while an event like this [Ukraine conflict] is unfolding” but that several areas stand out so far.
“The ability to deny a single satellites capabilities became very obvious very early in this conflict,” he said. “The ability to cyber attack ground networks that facilitate space vehicles, those vulnerabilities became obvious early in the conflict. The commercial augmentation of space capabilites showed its merits.”
A disaggregated communications architecture, based on hundreds of satellites, such as SpaceX’s Starlink, is “much tougher to target” and has “proven out to be a more resilient architecture,” Saltzman said.
Starlink has helped provide communications for Ukrainian forces (Defense Daily, Oct. 11, 2022). In addition, companies like ICEYE, Maxar Technologies [MAXR], Capella Space, and Black Sky [BKSY] have aided allied efforts with imagery, and companies, like Hawkeye 360, have helped in the realm of satellite/signals protection.
Such disaggregation is also to be present in the command structure. Combatant commands are to have space components and, thus far, U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Forces Korea, and Central Command have such components. Saltzman said that it will be important to delegate combat decisions to such regional authorities.
“Were gonna face adversaries in the future where were gonna have to win the decision cycle so were gonna have to push those decisions out in the regions, and I wanna make sure that we have space capability that can take on those responsibilities, if called on,” he said.
To aid the disaggregated JADC2, the Department of the Air Force is looking for commercial companies that are able to provide a software defined-wide area network (SD-WAN) that will be a key part of the space transport layer to reduce information and targeting lag times. The department may test out such SD-WAN features later this year at MITRE in Bedford, Mass.
The new head of the Space Force, Gen. Chance Saltzman, says that the clearest take-away so far from the ongoing war in Ukraine is that space systems are key to winning current and future conflicts.
“Im a history major. So, I dont like to draw too many lessons learned while an event like this is unfolding, but I think it would be fair to say that what were observing is the criticality of space in modern warfare,” he told the Space Force Association in an online interview yesterday evening.
Noting that there are a “number of different lenses” for analyzing the situation, Saltzman ticked off a handful of observations that he said the Space Force will absorb as it continues to work on developing operational concepts, tactics and training for Guardians.
“The ability to deny single satellite capabilities became very obvious very early in this conflict. The ability to cyber attack ground networks that facilitate space capabilities became very obvious. Those vulnerabilities became obvious early in the conflict,” he said.
“And then the commercial augmentation of space capabilities showed its merits,” he said.
Saltzman pointed in particular to the fact that SpaceXs Starlink communications constellation has been “much tougher to target” due to the large number of satellites and their disaggregation across low Earth orbit. “Its proven out to be a more resilient architecture.”
The Space Force, he stressed, intends to learn from all those insights.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced alongside Japanese officials on Wednesday that they would consider military retaliation in response to attacks on satellites, a policy that puts China and Russia on notice amid looming threats in space.
Space Force and U.S. Space Command are in charge of monitoring and protecting America’s satellite fleet. With additional treaty obligations between the U.S. and Japan, American forces could be drawn into a skirmish if Japanese satellites are targeted.
“The outer space component of this is important to the security and prosperity of our alliance. We agreed, as you’ve heard, that attacks to, from or within space present a clear challenge, and we affirmed that, depending on the nature of those attacks, this could lead to the invocation of Article V of our Japan-U.S. Security Treaty,” Blinken said, referencing the number of the clause in the treaty that covers mutual defense. “That is significant.”
The focus on space as part of the U.S.-Japan partnership is a big shift, according to Matthew P. Funaiole, a senior fellow at the nonprofit Center for Strategic and International Studies who researches issues relating to space and China.
“We’re talking about how we update and refine and reinforce an alliance that’s pretty old,” Funaiole told Military.com on Wednesday. “If we’re going to have defense pacts with countries, they need to include what the new and emerging domains are that can play a role in warfighting.”
Fears about interference with military and commercial satellites have grown significantly over the years and were stoked by China’s 2007 anti-satellite missile test, which created more than 3,000 pieces of space debris. That debris will likely remain in orbit for decades, according to the Secure World Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on peaceful interaction in space.
Space Force officials have also warned that China is developing and fielding new technology such as jammers and lasers that could harm America’s satellites.
For now, what specific action would result in a response from Japan or the United States is vague — potentially purposefully so, according to Funaiole.
“One thing that we see with China is that if you define specifically what a red line is, it finds really, really good ways of testing that red line or tiptoeing around that red line or pushing things up to the threshold of that red line,” Funaiole said. “So giving the U.S. and Japan flexibility and sorting through what that might be or what that might look like, is about giving us options and flexibility to interpret what would constitute an attack.”
The U.S. and Japan are scheduled to sign a separate agreement on space sometime this week. The agreement to activate Article V of the U.S. and Japan’s security treaty based on an action in space was praised by Japanese officials.
“The fact that we were able to agree on the announcement of the applicability of Article V of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty on attacks on others in outer space was a significant achievement in terms of the reinforcement of deterrence capability of the alliance as a whole,” Yoshimasa Hayashi, Japan’s minister of foreign affairs, said Wednesday.
As threats to satellites have become more apparent, the Space Force has expanded its footprint.
This past November, the service announced that 21 civilians and Guardians will be stationed in Hawaii with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, or INDOPACOM. It was the first assignment outside of the continental U.S. for the newest service branch and the first time Guardians have been part of a regional combatant command.
In early December, Space Force Guardians started setting up shop at U.S. Central Command to help the military focus on space navigation, missile warning and satellite communications against adversaries in the Middle East and South Asia.
Those shifts come as the military flags more provocations from China.
In August, China launched missile strikes near Taiwan during a military exercise shortly after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the country, which alarmed Japanese officials.
— Thomas Novelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.
Like most startup firms, the Space Force will need years, seven in this case, to fully mature and transform into a modern, digitized force, according to the services deputy chief of technology and innovation (CTIO).
“We are not where we need to be as a digital service by any means,” Col. Roy Rockwell told the GovConWire DoD Digital Modernization Forum today. “We still have a long way to go. And by year seven, I really think well be punching at our weight.”
He explained that as the service is just entering its third year, and is only now “finally starting to get our manpower in place to be able to get after doing our missions.” For example, he noted, even some basic decisions, such as where to base field commands, still are not yet finalized.
“So, we we will continue to work through that in that seven-year timeframe. When we get to that seven-year point we should be a fully functioning service like the other services, and we should be able to hopefully punch at the weight of the other services,” Rockwell said. “But today I think were really struggling with trying to punch at the weight of the other services, but not really having the resources or capabilities. So as we get after digital transformation, we have to be somewhat patient with this new service.”
That said, he stressed that digitization is foundational to the Space Force – not an afterthought or something nice to have. Indeed, and former Space Force chief Gen. Jay Raymond was fond of saying that the service was “born digital,” and the service in May 2021 released its Vision for a Digital Service.
“In other words, our ability to operate effectively in, through and from space directly depends on our ability to capture and analyze as much data as possible about whats happening in the domain, and in the other domains that touch space,” Rockwell said. “Data is hugely important to anything and everything we will do in the future space operations. And we must use that information to create joint all domain advantages and effects to improve decision superiority for our warfighters. Decision advantage is the key why data is so important.”
Space and Air Force officials for several years have argued that digitization is a precursor for the two services, and the Defense Department as a whole, to substantiate Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) and overmatch China and Russia on future information-dense battlefields that span the globe.
The CTIO office has three top priorities for the coming year, he explained.
The first is to “integrated operations mission network capability with requisite network and data connection capabilities. Thats really the core underlying connectivity of the architecture.”
The second is creating a corps of “digitally fluent” Guardians who can “deliver asymmetric effects and decision advantage to our warfighters through digital and technological innovation, partnerships and analysis.”
The third, he said, is the more “futuristic” goal – “probably two or three years away” – of realizing the Space Forces own version of the Metaverse, called the Spaceverse. In the military world, this means creating a virtual environment to connect people in an immersive way not just for training purposes, but for collaborating on system development and testing.
As a key first step toward better integrating operations, Rockwell said the Space Force is looking to “vertically” integrate its three field commands: Space Systems Command responsible for acquisition programs; Space Training and Readiness Command that trains Guardians, and Space Operations Command provides combat-ready intelligence, cyber, space and combat support forces to Space Command.
“The three field commands have different missions, all exist to generate present and sustain our Guardians to present forces and capabilities to our combat commanders,” Rockwell said. “While we were thinking about interoperability, it was not the priority. Speed was the priority.”
“Now, in year three, hopefully well have time to take a breath to integrate these vertical field commands and our other direct reporting units [with] a common transport layer and with common data standards and interoperability to ensure we are marching to the same drumbeat and onboard with the Space Force digital enterprise,” he added.
Rockwell said that he believes the Space Force is putting in place the necessary foundations to get to its goal of a modern, fully digitized service within that seven-year timeframe.
“I know our priorities and our vision is laid out appropriately to set the pathway for it. Now its just a matter of can we pull it all together on that digital course,” he said.
The U.S. Space Force is holding discussions with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration about replacing a geostationary weather satellite over the Indian Ocean.
In 2020, the U.S. Air Force began collecting weather imagery with the former GOES-13, a Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite NOAA launched in 2006 and retired in 2018. That satellite, renamed Electro-Optical Infrared Weather System-Geostationary (EWS-G), provides imagery in support of U.S. Central Command.
“We currently are using where were calling EWS-G1, which is covering the Indian Ocean today,” Lt. Col. Joseph L. Maguadog, who direct the Electro-Optical and Infrared Weather System program, said Jan. 9 at the American Meteorological Society annual meeting here. “And were in discussions with our NOAA partners about utilizing another GOES satellite to succeed that first capability.”
While those discussions continue, efforts are underway to update other elements of the military weather satellite fleet.
A cubesat built by Orion Space Solutions to gather weather imagery launched Jan. 3 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare flight. The U.S. Space Force plans to evaluate the cubesats performance over the next year as one element of its Electro-optical and infrared Weather Satellite (EWS) program.
“We look at it as more of a high-risk, high-reward prototype that were hoping might inform the type of capability we use in the long term,” Maguadog said.
Through the EWS program, the Space Force also is preparing to gather imagery with a small satellite built by General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems equipped with an imaging sensor developed by EO Vista.
“We believe that satellite will provide the necessary user capability as soon as we get it up there,” Maguadog said.
The Space Force plans to launch two Weather System Follow-on-Microwave (WSF-M) satellites built by Ball Aerospace to provide information on ocean surface winds, tropical cyclone intensity and space weather.
The first WSF-M is scheduled for launch in January 2024. The second satellite, ordered in November, is slated to launch in 2028.
Ball has completed construction of the WSF-M spacecraft bus and the satellites Microwave Imager (MWI) instrument, the company announced Jan. 10. The next step is space vehicle assembly, integration and testing.
“The nearly simultaneous completion of the spacecraft bus and instrument testing mark a significant milestone for the WSF-M program,” Hope Damphousse, Ball Aerospace vice president for strategic operations, said in a statement. “We are moving forward with spacecraft integration of the MWI sensor, along with a government-furnished Energetic Charged Particle sensor, which will be followed by a suite of space vehicle performance and environmental tests.”
The Department of Defense participated in the annual Combined Space Operations (CSpO) Initiative Principals Board, hosted by the New Zealand Defense Force and New Zealand Ministry of Defense, December 6-8.
The annual event brought together counterparts from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, with a focus on advancing collaboration and information sharing on space security topics.
CSpO is an initiative that seeks to generate and improve cooperation, coordination, and interoperability opportunities to sustain freedom of action in space, optimize resources, enhance mission assurance and resilience, and deter conflict.
During this years event, defense leaders emphasized the need to continue to promote a rules-based international order and responsible behaviors in space, while collaboratively addressing challenges to the safety and security of space-related operations.
Participants from the U.S. included Dr. John Plumb, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy; U.S. Space Force Gen. Chance Saltzman, Chief of Space Operations; U.S. Army GEN James Dickinson, Commander, United States Space Command; and Mr. Damon Wells, National Reconnaissance Office.
The CSpO Principals Board last met in December 2021 in the United States, reaffirming support to prevent conflicts extending to or originating in space and to hold accountable those who threaten the safety of the space environment. In February of this year, the group released the “CSpO Vision 2031,” outlining the initiatives overarching purpose and highlights its guiding principles, including: freedom of use of space, responsible and sustainable use of space, partnering while recognizing sovereignty, and upholding international law.
These guiding principles steer the initiatives objectives and are supported by several lines of effort, from developing and operating resilient, interoperable architectures to fostering responsible military behaviors in space and sharing intelligence and information, all leading to the pursuit of a safe, secure, and sustainable space domain.
U.S. Space Force Capt. Victoria Garcia, Space Delta 3 – Space Electromagnetic Warfare chief of the mission planning cell, was awarded the first-ever U.S. Space Force annual Polaris Award for Courage at Vandenberg Space Force Base, Nov. 18, 2022.
The Polaris Awards are a newly-formed, service-wide annual awards program, consisting of four individual awards, which recognize Guardians who exemplify the USSF core values of Character, Courage, Commitment and Connection; and one team award, which encompasses all four values.
In her current position, Garcia and her office oversee current and future operations and any type of integration that DEL 3 does with electromagnetic warfare. However, before she worked with DEL 3, Garcia served as the 4th Electromagnetic Warfare Squadron mission support director for about a year and a half. This was also where she learned about the support it takes to get an equipment that supports a combatant command to an area of responsibility.
Because of the experience she received at the 4th EWS, when the opportunity came up for a deployment, Garcia asked to be selected to serve as the deployment commander. Garcias confidence in her ability to lead her team in a location she had never been, stemmed from the tools she acquired through her training and the incredible team they had built for the mission.
“Why not ask [for the opportunity], the worst they can tell me is no,” said Garcia.
Working with the 4th EWS helped her tremendously while she was deployed. From the knowledge that she acquired through watching her team of system experts, she learned what it takes from a cyber, security and logistics standpoint.
“Because I oversaw that portion of the squadron already, I had that knowledge from when my team taught me as their director,” said Garcia. “And because I had that knowledge, it was easy to translate that to execute that mission.”
Garcia and a team of five others arrived at the deployed location two weeks early, which allowed them to determine what it would look like when the five C-130J Super Hercules arrived and delivered all the equipment and the remaining passengers. They used the extra time to their advantage by helping develop similar equipment that was there on ground to operate later.
As the members started to show up, Garcias teams hard work in those two weeks paid off, and everything ran like clockwork. Garcia emphasized the importance of the team that she served with and the gratitude she has for every member, because without them, the mission wouldnt have been completed.
Garcia was announced the winner of the Polaris award amongst the other contestants at the first annual USSF Ball held in Los Angeles.
“Leading a team into a foreign country, standing up a mission on short notice with a team of Airman and Guardians she just met, and knocking it out of the park, showed great courage,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Thomas Harris, Space Delta 3 director of staff. “Usually for first-time deployments, a seasoned field grade officer is sent to get things stood up, and there is usually way more lead time.”
Garcias personal definition of courage comes from her mother.
“She is the picture of courage to me,” said Garcia. “If it wasnt for her, I wouldnt be in the military, my sister wouldnt be a physician’s assistant, and my little sister wouldnt be a nurse. She is absolutely the foundation and more and is where my courage comes from.”
Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall last year rolled out a list of high-priority technologies, including space systems, where the Pentagon intends to pump more funding in order to stay ahead of China. These planned investments offer an unprecedented opportunity to “go after and harness commercial innovation from the space industry,” Col. Eric Felt, director of space architecture and integration, said Jan. 11.
“I have never in my 25 years of service seen the department move so much money so fast toward priorities that the secretary laid out. Thats exciting,” Felt said at the “State of the Space Industrial Base” webinar hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association.
Felt said his boss, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition and integration Frank Calvelli, is pushing the message across the Space Force that staying ahead technologically is not just about spending more but spending smarter. Part of that strategy is avoiding costly government development programs and tapping commercially available technologies.
“Whats so exciting to the Space Force and the space acquisition community about all this commercial innovation is that we can use it to maintain our technology lead, and deter conflict with our competitors,” said Felt. With regard to space systems, “we see solutions that are going to help us get after that problem and really deliver the kinds of capabilities that our warfighters need.”
Felt noted that how the Pentagon spends its space dollars can have a significant impact on the health of the industry. “The things that we do in space acquisition can be super helpful to our industrial base or super harmful to our industrial base,” he said, as a healthy space sector is important for national security and for the economy.
Calvelli has been insistent about the need for speed in acquisitions, and that goes along with the idea of using more commercial technologies, and building smaller satellites, said Felt.
“His formula for going faster in acquisition starts with smaller systems, and that includes buying more commercial systems … That is a big thrust of what were doing,” he added.
These rules were laid out by Calvelli in an Oct. 31 memo that procurement offices are “now figuring out how to implement,” said Felt.
Following this new direction, he said, “I think will be very healthy for the Space Force and healthy for the industry as well.”
’We need to invest properly
Steve “Bucky” Butow, director of the space portfolio at the Defense Innovation Unit, said DoD needs to spend wisely on commercial products and services, and that means awarding “meaningful contracts” that benefit the government and the private sector.
“What we really want is a strong commercial space industrial base that supports not just the military but our economic security, and our exploration efforts with NASA,” Butow said at the NDIA webinar.
“Prototyping, experimentation and validation of space capabilities is an area that traditionally has been underfunded,” he said. “Its getting better. But if we want to have robust capabilities, we really need to make sure that were investing properly in research and development, to include prototyping activities that we do with commercial companies that are doing really interesting things to give the U.S. a competitive advantage in space.”
“The next thing is meaningful contracts,” he said.
“That extends to not just procurement of widgets, but services. Services contracts are not normally done in the Department of Defense. But most of the interesting things that are going to be offered in space are going to be available as commercial services. And we really need the U.S. Space Force to be the executive agent for the entire department to make a wide variety of services available.”
Need metrics of success
A concern for DoD in the great power competition with China is how to measure success, warned Richard “Doc” Klodnicki, president and CEO of the consulting firm Aereti Inc.
When experts try to handicap the space race, too much emphasis is placed on the number of space launches, or on how many exploration vehicles and satellites each country sends to orbit, Klodnicki noted.
“I would caution against focusing on what China is doing versus what it is we want to do,” he said. “Im not so sure that number of launches is always the right metric.”
If satellites are being launched to replace existing assets, “thats not innovation, thats operations, maintenance and sustainment,” he said. “I think we need to start looking at what are the metrics of interest that were using, and how are we then moving those forward.”
The U.S. needs to figure out what success means “without regard to what Chinas doing, but rather with regard to what the United States and its allied partners want to accomplish, and that will force China to have to follow too.”
by Ireland DeggesJanuary 11, 2023, 11:54 am
Weather System Follow-on-Microwave satellite / prnewswire press release
Jan 10, 2023, 10:00 ET
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BROOMFIELD, Colo., Jan. 10, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Ball Aerospace completed the spacecraft bus for the Weather System Follow-on-Microwave (WSF-M) satellite, the U.S. Space Force’s next-generation operational environmental satellite system. Ball also finalized environmental testing on the Microwave Imager (MWI) instrument and has started final space vehicle assembly, integration and testing.
Ball Aerospace makes progress on the Weather System Follow-on-Microwave satellite for the U.S. Space Force.
Upon delivery, WSF-M will provide mission data to Department of Defense’s (DoD) environmental prediction systems that support all warfighter domains. In addition, it will broadcast real-time, actionable environmental intelligence to on-going military operations across the globe.
“The nearly simultaneous completion of the spacecraft bus and instrument testing mark a significant milestone for the WSF-M program,” said, Hope Damphousse, vice president, Strategic Operations, Ball Aerospace. “We are moving forward with spacecraft integration of the MWI sensor, along with a government-furnished Energetic Charged Particle (ECP) sensor, which will be followed by a suite of space vehicle performance and environmental tests.”
At the heart of the WSF-M payload is the Ball-built MWI sensor that takes calibrated passive radiometric measurements at multiple microwave frequencies to measure sea surface winds, tropical cyclone intensity and additional environmental data. The ECP sensor will provide critical space weather measurements. WSF-M was designed to mitigate three high-priority DoD Space-Based Environmental Monitoring (SBEM) gaps: ocean surface vector winds, tropical cyclone intensity and the space weather gap, low Earth orbit (LEO) energetic charged particles. It will also address three additional SBEM gaps: sea ice characterization, soil moisture and snow depth. Ball Aerospace was recently awarded the contract modification to develop and build the second WSF-M space vehicle, expected to be completed by late 2027.
Ball Aerospace has played key roles on numerous operational weather satellite programs. Its Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suite (OMPS) instruments are operating on the Ball-built Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 satellites, launched in 2011 and 2017, respectively. OMPS is also on board the Joint Polar Satellite System-2 (JPSS-2), which launched on November 10, 2022. Ball is on contract with NASA to build two additional OMPS instruments for JPSS-3 and JPSS-4. The Ball-built Ion Velocity Meter (IVM) space weather sensors are flying on five of the six Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate-2 (COSMIC-2) satellites, a joint program with the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Space Force, Taiwan’s National Space Organization, NOAA and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research that launched in 2019.
Powered by endlessly curious people with an unwavering mission focus, Ball Aerospace pioneers discoveries that enable our customers to perform beyond expectation and protect what matters most. We create innovative space solutions, enable more accurate weather forecasts, drive insightful observations of our planet, deliver actionable data and intelligence, and ensure those who defend our freedom go forward bravely and return home safely. Go Beyond with Ball.Â® For more information, visit www.ball.com/aerospace or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.
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Ball Corporation (NYSE: BALL) supplies innovative, sustainable aluminum packaging solutions for beverage, personal care and household products customers, as well as aerospace and other technologies and services primarily for the U.S. government. Ball Corporation and its subsidiaries employ 24,300 people worldwide and reported 2021 net sales of $13.8 billion. For more information, visit www.ball.com, or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.
The finalization of the systems spacecraft bus and the conclusion of its microwave imager technologys environmental assessment will propel the project into its final assembly, integration and testing stages, Ball Aerospace announced from Broomfield, Colorado on Tuesday.
“The nearly simultaneous completion of the spacecraft bus and instrument testing mark a significant milestone for the WSF-M program,” emphasized Hope Damphousse, vice president of strategic operations at Ball Aerospace.
“We are moving forward with spacecraft integration of the MWI sensor, along with a government-furnished energetic charged particle sensor, which will be followed by a suite of space vehicle performance and environmental tests,” she shared.
WSF-M was created to patch significant gaps regarding ocean surface vector winds, tropical cyclone intensity and the space weather gap of low earth orbit energetic charged particles within Department of Defense Space-Based Environmental Monitoring capabilities. The system will also target the gaps in sea ice characterization, soil moisture and snow depth.
The Ball-built MWI sensor, which is able to take calibrated passive radiometric measurements at multiple microwave frequencies to measure sea surface winds, tropical cyclone intensity and other environmental data, will serve as the core of the WSF-M payload while the energetic charged particles sensor will contribute critical space weather measurements.
Ball Aerospace won the contract modification for creating and producing the second WSF-M space vehicle in November of last year. Work under the modification is expected to be completed by late 2027.
The enterprise has taken part in a multitude of operational weather satellite initiatives. Its Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suit system is currently being utilized in the Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 satellites as well as in the recently launched Joint Polar Satellite System-2.
Under an ongoing NASA contract, the company is building two more OMPS instruments for JPSS-3 and JPSS-4.
Ball Aerospace also participated in a joint initiative between the U.S. Air Force and Space Force, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and Taiwans National Space Organization.
As part of the collaboration, Ball Aerospace provided ion velocity meters for five of the programs six Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate-2 satellites, which launched in 2019.
GovCon Wire will be hosting its Space Acquisition Forum on Jan. 18, which will bring together government officials and industry experts to consider the challenges, technologies and best practices influencing the current space acquisition landscape. To learn more and register to attend, please visit GovCon Wires events page.