Ball Aerospace wins major U.S. Air Force contract for next-generation weather satellite

Ball Aerospace wins major U.S. Air Force contract for next-generation weather satellite

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SMC chooses Ball Aerospace
The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) chooses Ball Aerospace to deliver next-generation operational environmental satellite system.

US: The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) has selected Ball Aerospace to deliver the next-generation operational environmental satellite system, Weather System Follow-on – Microwave (WSF-M), for the Department of Defense (DoD). The WSF-M is a predominantly fixed price contract that will provide for system design and risk reduction of a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite with a passive microwave imaging radiometer instrument and hosted Government furnished energetic charged particle (ECP) sensor.

The contract will also include options for the development and fabrication of two LEO satellites as well as options for launch vehicle integration, launch and early orbit test, and operational test and evaluation support. This mission will improve weather forecasting over maritime regions by taking global measurements of the atmosphere and ocean surface.

“This is an exciting win for us, and we’re looking forward to expanding our work with the Air Force and continuing to support warfighters and allies around the world,” said Rob Strain, president, Ball Aerospace. “WSF-M extends Ball’s legacy of providing precise measurements from space to enable more accurate weather forecasting.”

As the prime contractor, Ball will be responsible for developing and integrating the entire microwave system, which includes the microwave instrument, spacecraft and system software.

WSF-M is designed to mitigate three high priority DoD Space-Based Environmental Monitoring (SBEM) gaps: ocean surface vector winds, tropical cyclone intensity and LEO energetic charged particles.

This new environmental satellite system leverages the Ball-built Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Microwave Imager (GMI) instrument, which is the on-orbit reference standard for calibrating precipitation measurements in NASA’s GPM constellation. The WSF-M bus will be based on the Ball Configurable Platform, a proven, agile spacecraft with 50 years of on-orbit operations for affordable remote sensing applications.

Ball has played key roles on numerous national and international programs that make critical measurements of the physical environment. These include designing and building the weather spacecraft for both the recently launched Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1) and for the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP).