Air Force officials select Ball Aerospace to develop Ion Velocity Meter to fly on microsatellite

BOULDER, Colo., 15 Feb. 2014. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. won a $5.8 million contract from the Defense Weather System Directorate at the Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles, Calif., for the production of the Ion Velocity Meter (IVM) under the U.S. Air Force Space Situational Awareness Environmental Monitoring program to fly aboard COSMIC-2, the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate-2.

The IVM instrument was originally designed by the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). Ball Aerospace is under contract to build five replicas of the instrument under a firm fixed-priced contract.  In addition to other operational space sensor programs, Ball Aerospace employs a disciplined technology transfer process to IVM based on prior collaboration with UTD on the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System.

"The improved sensing capability afforded by the IVM aboard the next-generation COSMIC-2 will contribute to critical long-term data continuity characterizing space plasma," said Dave Kaufman, vice president and general manager for Ball Aerospace's National Defense business unit. "IVM measurements are important for assessing the effects of space weather on spacecraft and communications."

COSMIC-2 is a joint follow-on mission between Taiwan and U.S. agencies to launch a constellation of six satellites into low-inclination orbits in late 2015. The COSMIC-2 mission will provide a revolutionary increase in the number of atmospheric and ionospheric observations. Ionospheric characterization is critical because it influences radio propagation to distant places on the Earth. Data from the IVM instruments will be used to characterize the ionosphere, providing information related to applications involving radio wave propagation.

U.S. agencies led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are now actively partnering with Taiwan's National Space Organization to execute the COSMIC-2 program. The U.S. Air Force will provide three space weather payloads that will fly on the first six satellites, including the IVM instruments and RF Beacon transmitters. The U.S. Air Force is also providing the primary payload, the U.S. Global Navigation Satellite System Radio-Occultation instrument under development by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for atmospheric characterization.

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