Air Force explores alternatives to traditional satellite programs

The Air Force is adjusting its national security satellite programs so that they can take advantage of government sensors on commercial satellites, as well as more cost-effective launches of less expensive and less complex satellites for other missions, Reuters reports.

Gen. William Shelton, who heads Air Force Space Command, told reporters recently that he intended to issue an open-ended, multiyear contract worth about $500 million in 2013 that would enable the government to use more “hosted payloads” on commercial satellites.

The Air Force also is considering launching an additional navigational satellite as part of its Global Positioning System that would save money by discarding the sensor used on current satellites to detect nuclear detonations, Shelton said. That satellite would be deployed to boost coverage in urban and mountainous terrain, he said.

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