DMSP-17 satellite

Ball Aerospace & Technologies has been awarded a contract to carry out risk-reduction work in support of the US Air Force’s (USAF) weather satellite follow-on activities (WSFA) programme.

Awarded by the USAF’s Space and Missile Center (SMC), the contract covers the development of next-generation microwave sounding and imaging instruments for the air force.

Designed to fit into smaller, cost-efficient launch vehicles, the microwave instruments will be capable of achieving the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) requirements for soil moisture and ocean surface vector winds measurement.

Ball Aerospace National Defense business unit vice president and general manager Tim Harris said the risk reduction effort will assist the USAF in the production of an affordable system for space-based environmental sensing.

"Ball’s experience with other similar systems lays the foundation to address the nation’s highest priority defense weather requirements," Harris added.

The contract work is expected to share assets with the advanced global precipitation monitoring microwave imager (GMI) instrument, which was recently manufactured and delivered by the company to Nasa for the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission.

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The 12-month WSFA programme aims to identify affordable, low-risk and schedule-responsive solutions to address requirements of the legacy Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) users, who are expected to experience coverage gaps in the coming years due to changes in domestic and international meteorological satellite programmes.

Manufactured by Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space Systems, the DMSP collects and provides terrestrial, space environment and Earth surface data to help the US military in planning of operations on the ground, at sea and in the air.

Other WSFA contractors include AllianTech Systems (ATK), ITT Exelis, Harris and Millennium Space Systems, among others.

Image: The Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellite arrives at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US. Photo: US Air Force photo by Airman First Class David A. Sherman/Released.

Defence Technology