Officials of the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif., announced a half-billion-dollar order to Ball Aerospace last week for the Weather System Follow-On-Microwave (WSF-M) satellite project.
The Air Force is awarding $255.4 million to Ball Aerospace to develop and build the WSF-M space vehicle 1. Ball originally won a $93.7 million contract last year to get started on the WSF-M project to design and build the WSF-M low-Earth-orbit satellite with a passive microwave imaging radiometer instrument and hosted government furnished energetic charged particles sensor to provide ocean surface vector wind and tropical cyclone intensity capabilities.
The WSF-M will be a next-generation polar-orbiting satellite to provide the kind of space-based terrestrial environmental sensing capabilities now provided by the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) and the Naval Research Laboratory's WindSat spacecraft.
Ball Aerospace is developing a microwave sensor for integration on a WSF-M satellite, as well as developing mission data processing software for existing ground infrastructure, and providing post-launch operational support.
Polar orbits typically subject space systems to relatively large amounts of naturally occurring radiation, so the WSF-M design will require substantial amounts of radiation-hardened integrated circuits, and hardening of other electronic systems.
The WSF-M system will have a space segment, launch segment, and ground segment. The space segment has a flight vehicle testbed, ground support equipment, and a satellite able to sense, sore, and transmit microwave raw sensor data to measure wind speed and direction at the ocean's surface -- including the intensity of tropical cyclones like hurricanes and typhoons.
The WSF-M launch segment consists of launch vehicle, launch support facilities, and launch services. Its consists of a primary and backup ground services operations center, as well as the Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN) Space Ground Link System (SGLS) and Unified S-Band (USB)-capable ground stations. The ground segment incorporates WSF-M mission software, including WSF-M command and control software and senor data processing software.
On this contract Ball Aerospace will do the work in Boulder, Colo., and should be finished by January 2023. For more information contact Ball Aerospace online at www.ball.com/aerospace, or the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at www.afspc.af.mil.
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