Ball Aerospace to build weather satellite with microwave instrument to measure ocean winds

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Spacecraft designers at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., will build a next-generation weather satellite with a passive microwave imaging radiometer instrument to measure the direction and speed of ocean winds, as well as the intensity of global hurricanes.

Ball Aerospace to build weather satellite with microwave instrument to measure ocean winds
Ball Aerospace to build weather satellite with microwave instrument to measure ocean winds
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Spacecraft designers at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., will build a next-generation weather satellite with a passive microwave imaging radiometer instrument to measure the direction and speed of ocean winds, as well as the intensity of global hurricanes.

Officials of the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif., announced a $93.7 million contract to Ball Aerospace last week for the Weather System Follow-On-Microwave (WSF-M) satellite project.

Ball Aerospace will 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 that will 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.

The WSF-M contract requires Ball Aerospace to develop a microwave sensor, integrate this sensor on a satellite, develop mission data processing software for existing ground infrastructure, and provide post-launch operational support.

Related: Hyperspectral imaging sensors from Ball Aerospace chosen for advanced weather-forecasting satellites

Polar orbits typically subject space systems to relatively large amounts of naturally occurring radiation, so the WSF-M design is likely to 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 November 2019. 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.

Ready to make a purchase? Search the Military & Aerospace Electronics Buyer's Guide for companies, new products, press releases, and videos

More in Unmanned