The United States Space Force was scheduled to pick which manufacturers would build the next-generation weather spacecraft for the Defense Department this year, according to reports. However, according to a programme official, the competition will be prolonged until 2022 in order to give the groups more period to perfect their concepts.
A total of $309 million in contracts were awarded to 3 teams in 2020 June by the Space Enterprise Consortium, which is a Space Force firm that collaborates with commercial space companies and startups. The winning teams were General Atomics, Raytheon Technologies, and Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates. In the case of the EWS, which stands for Electro-Optical Infrared Weather System, all three are presenting designs for the constellation of the polar-orbiting weather imaging as well as cloud characterization satellites.
“The original plan was to down-select candidates in the spring of 2021.” Based on strong vendor progress and resource availability,” Col. Brian Denaro, programme executive officer in charge of the space development at Space Systems Command, stated in response to SpaceNews last week. “The EWS programme office has extended the competition through spring 2022.”
In Denaro’s words, “this addition provides the programme office with the ability to confidently down-select designs depending on a much more mature design.”
In addition to cloud forecasting data, the EWS satellites is going to collect data on theatre weather imagery. That information is currently given by an ageing constellation of 4 Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) spacecraft, which are scheduled to reach the end of their operational life sometime between late 2023 and 2026 depending on the location.
Under the terms of so-dubbed Other Transaction Authority agreements, which are intended to cut red tape and enable contractors to be able to co-invest in ventures, the Space Enterprise Consortium is collaborating with the three teams. According to the Space Force, a minimum of one spacecraft will be selected for an on-orbit demo in 2023.
An EWS concept called TWICC, developed by Raytheon with a smaller variant of Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) tool initially created for the Joint Polar Satellite System of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, would use V a smaller version of IIRS instrument (short for the Theater Weather Imaging and Cloud Characterization).
One of the systems on sale from General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems is the constellation of 15 tiny satellites. EO/IR satellite command and control systems are being developed in conjunction with Parsons by Braxton in partnership with Parsons. Braxton is presently in the ownership of Parsons.
Atmospheric and Space Technology Research Associates suggests a constellation of 12U cubesats, which would consist of approximately 50 satellites, to study the atmosphere and space. ASTRA’s team includes organizations such as Science and Technology Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Atmospheric & Environmental Research, and Pumpkin Inc.