General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) has upgraded the spacecraft prototype being designed for the US Space Force (USSF) electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) weather system (EWS) satellite programme.

The satellite has been updated from a one year ‘on-orbit sensor demonstration’ to a three-to-five-year ‘prototype spacecraft’ with residual operational capability.

GA-EMS president Scott Forney said: “The GA-EMS EWS spacecraft will now be able to provide extended operations, direct broadcast of weather data to tactical users, and increased reliability to meet mission requirements.

“This pivot, from solely an on-orbit sensor demonstration programme to now include residual operational capabilities, illustrates the confidence in GA-EMS’ design to perform as needed and ensure the USSF can continue to provide critical weather information to warfighters around the globe.”

Earlier this year, GA-EMS successfully delivered an initial EWS design that enables the transition to the EWS Prototype Demonstration programme’s final design phase.

GA-EMS is leading the design efforts of the EWS from its Centennial facility, with support from its teams in Huntsville, Fredericksburg; and San Diego.

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The company’s facilities in Tupelo, Mississippi, are involved in manufacturing while spacecraft assembly, integration and test (AI&T) will take place in Centennial.

According to the company, the programme is in the competitive phase.

GA-EMS Missile Defense and Space Systems vice-president Nick Bucci said: “The GA-EMS EWS spacecraft will be ready to fill the EO/IR sensor gap as the DMSP quickly approaches obsolescence and end of life, while also providing the USSF with a next-generation advanced weather satellite, sensor and weather products for national security missions.”

GA-EMS completes initial design review of USSF EWS satellite programme. Credit: General Atomics.