The first US Air Force space-based space-surveillance (SBSS) satellite has sent initial on-orbit signals following its launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, US.

The signals indicate that the satellite is functioning normally and is ready to begin orbital manoeuvres and operational testing.

The tests will include sending simulated space situational awareness tasks to the SBSS Satellite Operations Center, which will send commands to the satellite, and collecting data from those tasks for the Air Force Joint Space Operations Center.

The SBSS satellite will be the USAF’s only space-based sensor capable of detecting and monitoring debris and satellites without disruptions from weather and atmosphere.

The satellite and its ground system will improve accuracy, and the timeliness of tracking and monitoring capabilities, while providing flexibility to quickly respond to new and changing mission requirements.

The SBSS block 10 satellite, developed by a Boeing-led team including Ball Aerospace and Technologies, was launched aboard an Orbital Sciences Minotaur IV rocket.