US Air Force Awards Ball Aerospace with Next-Gen Weather Satellite Contract

The U.S. Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) has selected Ball Aerospace to deliver a next-generation environmental satellite system, Weather System Follow-on – Microwave (WSF-M). As the prime contractor, Ball will be responsible for developing and integrating the entire microwave system, which includes the microwave instruments, spacecraft and system software.

WSF-M is a predominantly fixed price contract that will provide for system design and risk reduction of a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite with a passive microwave imaging radiometer instrument and hosted Government furnished energetic charged particle (ECP) sensor. The contract will include options for the development and fabrication of two LEO satellites as well as options for launch vehicle integration, launch and early orbit test, and operational test and evaluation support. This mission will improve weather forecasting over maritime regions by taking global measurements of the atmosphere and ocean surface.

WSF-M is designed to mitigate three high priorities DoD Space-Based Environmental Monitoring (SBEM) gaps: ocean surface vector winds, tropical cyclone intensity and LEO energetic charged particles. The new environmental satellite system leverages the Ball-built Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Microwave Imager (GMI) instrument, which is the on-orbit reference standard for calibrating precipitation measurements in NASA's GPM constellation. The b bus will be based on the Ball Configurable Platform, a proven, agile spacecraft with 50 years of on-orbit operations for affordable remote sensing applications.

Ball has played key roles on numerous national and international programs that make critical measurements of the physical environment. These include designing and building the weather spacecraft for both the recently launched Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1) and for the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP).