New military weather satellite reaches key milestones

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A satellite designed to rapidly provide environmental monitoring from space for the warfighter has passed two major milestones, passing a critical design review and receiving Milestone B certification, the US Space Force announced on May 19.

The next-generation WSF-M (Weather System Follow-on-Microwave) program will provide critical weather data to the U.S. military and its allies. The system will use passive microwave sensors to measure ocean surface wind speed and direction, ice thickness, snow depth and soil moisture. It will also provide space weather data, taking readings of energetic charged particles around the spacecraft.

Ball Aerospace is the prime contractor for WSF-M, having received approximately $349.6 million to design and build the first spacecraft.

WSF-M passed its critical design review in April, clearing the way for manufacturing, demonstration and testing. On May 15, Air Force Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Will Roper granted WSF-M Milestone B certification and program approval, formally defining the requirements for running the programme, including cost and schedule ceilings.

SMC noted that both milestones were achieved while taking measures to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. During critical design review, physical distancing guidelines were followed using voice conferencing, online meetings and secure data exchange tools to remove the need for in-person interactions.

“I am fortunate to have a dedicated team that is committed to delivering capabilities on time, no matter the obstacle,” Lt. Col. Wilfredo Ruiz, WSF-M program manager, said in a statement. .

Nathan Strout is the editor of C4ISRNET, where he covers the intelligence community.

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