Space surveillance satellite ready for July launch

Additional risk reduction exercises, software enhancements completed

Boeing Co. has shipped a satellite to Vandeng Air Force Base in California designed to improve the way the United States tracks and monitors other satellites and debris in space.

The Space Based Space Surveillance satellite is scheduled for launch on July 8, company officials said today.

Developed by Boeing and Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp., the satellite will undergo final preparations for integration with its Minotaur IV launch vehicle. The SBSS system was scheduled for launch in October, but a hardware issue with the Minotaur IV rocket forced the Air Force to delay the launch.

During the delay, Boeing’s SBSS team worked on risk-reduction tasks that included additional operations exercises and also made software enhancements to improve performance, company officials said.

Air Force officials said May 28 that Boeing will receive an additional $7 million contract to support the satellite before, during and after launch.

Once in orbit, SBSS will track satellites, debris and other objects in space that pose a threat to U.S. satellites that provide communications, navigation, weather forecasting and other services. To carry out its mission, the SBSS satellite uses a digital sensor mounted on a high-speed gimbal to locate and track objects without having to reposition the entire satellite.

SBSS will let the Air Force monitor objects from space rather than by ground-based sensors subject to limitations such as weather and time of day.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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