Space Force Planning on Gap Fixing in Weather Data 

Through a mandate by the United States Congress, Space Force has successfully finalized a report on its stipulated plans on weather satellite acquisition to match the demand for meteorological data by the military. According to the chief of the Space and Missile Systems Center Production Corps Low Earth Orbit Division, Charlotte Gerhart, the report, which has been completed, will be submitted by the Air force department to the congress. 

The U.S. Air Force’s space weather program, which is currently under the U.S. Space Force, has been under scrutiny by the defense appropriation committee for some time. During the 2020 conference report, the appropriators aired their doubts on the Air Force’s ability to offer precise and well-timed elements data. This was because the information released has a global impact on military operations, making it a delicate matter. 

Though Gerhart did not comment on what is contained in the report, she indicated that various programs are already in play by the Space Force to deliver space-based meteorological and oceanographic data. There are also plans for Space Force to make investments in next-generation systems.

This month, Space Force triggered a geostationary weather satellite received from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2019. The satellite christened Electro-Optical Infrared Weather System Geostationary (EWS-G1), formerly GOES-13, was relocated to the Indian Ocean to facilitate in coverage. According to Gerhart, the satellite will be responsible for providing cloud characterization and theater weather imagery. With the current fuel load, the satellite is expected to continue functioning for the next four to five years.

Gerhart further commented that though they have been able to leverage satellites belonging to European countries in the region over the Indian Ocean, the new satellite will offer them a spare asset, which opens up more exploration opportunities that were not initially available. The program to reprogram the NOAA’s satellite is deemed cheaper in terms of cost and time as it would have taken five to ten years to build and launch a new spacecraft.

Raytheon Technologies’ research develops competing for space sensor prototypes in conjunction with General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems and Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates. The prototypes are expected to be able to provide worldwide cloud characterization and theater weather imagery. To cover the poles, SMC is plotting to acquire a new Weather System Follow-On-Microwave (WSF-M) satellite, which is being developed by Ball Aerospace. The satellite passed its design review earlier this year and will be launched by 2023.