Ball Aerospace has completed two phases in the development of the Weather System Follow-on-Microwave satellite for the U.S. Space Force.
The finalization of the system’s spacecraft bus and the conclusion of its microwave imager technology’s environmental assessment will propel the project into its final assembly, integration and testing stages, Ball Aerospace announced from Broomfield, Colorado on Tuesday.
“The nearly simultaneous completion of the spacecraft bus and instrument testing mark a significant milestone for the WSF-M program,” emphasized Hope Damphousse, vice president of strategic operations at Ball Aerospace.
“We are moving forward with spacecraft integration of the MWI sensor, along with a government-furnished energetic charged particle sensor, which will be followed by a suite of space vehicle performance and environmental tests,” she shared.
WSF-M was created to patch significant gaps regarding ocean surface vector winds, tropical cyclone intensity and the space weather gap of low earth orbit energetic charged particles within Department of Defense Space-Based Environmental Monitoring capabilities. The system will also target the gaps in sea ice characterization, soil moisture and snow depth.
The Ball-built MWI sensor, which is able to take calibrated passive radiometric measurements at multiple microwave frequencies to measure sea surface winds, tropical cyclone intensity and other environmental data, will serve as the core of the WSF-M payload while the energetic charged particles sensor will contribute critical space weather measurements.
Ball Aerospace won the contract modification for creating and producing the second WSF-M space vehicle in November of last year. Work under the modification is expected to be completed by late 2027.
The enterprise has taken part in a multitude of operational weather satellite initiatives. Its Ozone Mapping and Profiler Suit system is currently being utilized in the Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 satellites as well as in the recently launched Joint Polar Satellite System-2.
Under an ongoing NASA contract, the company is building two more OMPS instruments for JPSS-3 and JPSS-4.
Ball Aerospace also participated in a joint initiative between the U.S. Air Force and Space Force, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and Taiwan’s National Space Organization.
As part of the collaboration, Ball Aerospace provided ion velocity meters for five of the program’s six Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate-2 satellites, which launched in 2019.
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