WASHINGTON: The Space Force is tacking on plans for changing its dying climate satellites, a two-pronged acquisitions technique to cowl each near- and far-term wants, a senior Space Systems Command official instructed Breaking Defense.
SSC is each shopping for new satellites to exchange these few remaining Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) birds, in addition to buying climate knowledge and evaluation as a “service” from business distributors, mentioned Lt. Col. Joseph Maguadog, SSC EO/IR Weather System materiel chief. (EO stands for electro-optic and IR for infrared — the 2 fundamental forms of space-based cameras utilized in climate monitoring.)
“SSC is exploring both options,” he mentioned in an e mail, with a spotlight “on ensuring we meet both the near- & long-term needs of our warfighter.”
“In the near-term, our current vendors are on-track to deliver a system that can provide the necessary EO/IR data to succeed DMSP 17,” Maguadog added. “Long-term, we are continuing to explore options that could provide a more resilient, capable, and affordable architecture.”
The Air Force and Space Force for a couple of years have been contemplating the choice of shopping for climate knowledge merchandise fairly than constructing devoted army satellites.
Weather analytics startup Tomorrow.io in 2019 received its first Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract from the Air Force to discover its software program for potential use by Air Force Special Operations Command.
In 2020 SpaceX received a contract price $2 million as a part of the Space Force’s Electro-Optical Infrared Weather System (EWS) program, alongside a set of three contracts for prototype satellites (with a complete worth of $309 million) that went to Raytheon Intelligence & Space (RI&S), General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-ES) and ASTRA (for Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates).
That consideration has now been formalized, with a Jan. 10 Request for Information (RFI) geared toward gathering “preliminary cost and schedule estimates” for “weather data as a service (WxDaaS).”
According to the RFI, “The initial service is expected to begin in FY2025 with options that include improved performance through FY2040.” Interested firms have till Feb. 24 to reply.
“Our previous sensor agnostic efforts with SpaceX revealed the feasibility for a weather data as a service (WxDaaS) model that could meet those long-term objectives. This RFI provides an opportunity for full and open competition if WxDaaS is determined to be a better long-term approach than the traditional model,” Maguadog defined.
The concept is to enter right into a contract with a supplier that's “kinda like an HBO subscription,” mentioned Shawn Cochran, RI&S affiliate director for civil and environmental area. And whereas RI&S has been centered on the prototype competitors, he mentioned that's one thing the corporate may simply do as an alternative.
In reality, Cochran famous, the prototype satellite tv for pc constructing effort additionally has shifted barely from an indication of functionality to exchange the complete DMSP constellation (there at present are 4 on orbit) to deal with quickly changing DMSP-17 earlier than it loses performance.
“Space Force made the decision to pivot from a sort of demonstration of a capability that could be mature to meet the goals of replacing DMSP to a prototype mission for residual operations,” he mentioned. “Essentially it was to replace DMSP-17.”
RI&S, together with GA-ES, late final yr each received contracts to supply a prototype satellite tv for pc able to “residual operational capability” for 3 to 5 years.
At the identical time, the service remains to be seeking to down-select one supplier someday this quarter to meet all the necessities put collectively by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) for next-generation climate birds, Cochran mentioned.
There are two key wants recognized by the JROC, he elaborated: “the science mission” of cloud characterization and theater climate imagery; and the power to revisit any location on the globe each hour to replace the climate image.
“We were asked to say what would that constellation look like and how would you approach it, and give us a rough order of magnitude on what that would cost?” Cochran mentioned.