Ball Aerospace to create next-generation weather satellite for US Air Force

By Nell Walker
Ball Aerospace, one of America’s leading aerospace component manufacturers, has been selected by the US Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center...

Ball Aerospace, one of America’s leading aerospace component manufacturers, has been selected by the US Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center to deliver a next-generation operational environmental satellite system.

The Weather System Follow-on Microwave (WSF-M) has been developed for the Department of Defence, and the contract will provide for system design and risk reduction of a Low Earth Orbit satellite, with a passive microwave imaging radiometer instrument and hosted government furnished energetic charged particle sensor.

The contract will also include options for the development and fabrication of two Low Earth Orbit satellites as well as options for launch vehicle integration, launch and early orbit test, operational test, and evaluation support. The mission will improve weather forecasting over maritime regions by taking global measurements of the atmosphere and ocean surface. WSF-M is designed to mitigate three high priority DoD Space-Based Environmental Monitoring (SBEM) gaps: ocean surface vector winds, tropical cyclone intensity, and Low Earth Orbit energetic charged particles.

Rob Strain, President of Ball Aerospace, said: "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.

"WSF-M extends Ball's legacy of providing precise measurements from space to enable more accurate weather forecasting."

Ball will be responsible for the development and integration of the microwave system, including all components, spacecraft, and system software. The company has played vital roles on numerous national and worldwide programs which make critical measurements of the physical environment, including designing and building the weather spacecraft for both the Joint Polar Satellite System-1 and the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership.

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