Space Based Space Surveillance: Follow On Needed

December 13/18: Sustainment Boeing is being awarded with a contract modification to sustain the US Air Force’s Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) Block 10 system. Worth $22.7 million the modification exercises a contract option for sustainment and required development to keep the SBSS running. Required efforts include systems engineering, operations, operations support, and contractor logistics support. SBSS is intended to detect and track space objects, such as satellites, anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons, and orbital debris, providing information to the US DoD as well as NASA. The Block 10 satellite operates 24-hours a day, 7-days a week collecting metric and Space Object Identification data for man-made orbiting objects without the disruption of weather, time of day and atmosphere that can limit ground-based systems. Work will be performed at Boeing’s factory in El Segundo, California and in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Performance is expected to be completed by June 2022.

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SBSS Constellation (click to view larger) In January 2001, a commission headed by then US Defense Secretary-designate Donald Rumsfeld warned about a possible “space Pearl Harbor” in which a potential enemy would launch a surprise attack against US-based military space assets, disabling them. These assets include communications satellites and the GPS system, which is crucial for precision attack missiles and a host of military systems. “The US is more dependent on space than any other nation. Yet the threat to the US and its allies in and from space does not command the attention it merits,” the commission warned. One of the systems that grew out of the commission’s report was the Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) project, which is developing a constellation of satellites to provide the US military with space situational awareness using visible sensors. After a slow start, SBSS Block 10 reached a significant milestone in August 2012 with its Initial Operational Capability, followed by full operational capability less than a year later. But lack of funding casts as shadow on whether this capability will be maintained beyond 2017. By 2014/15 the Air Force worked on a stopgap project as well as an effort to obtain proper […]

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