Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) declared initial operational capability (IOC) for the Space Based Space Surveillance Block 10 satellite Friday, it said in statement.
IOC means the SBSS system has achieved its initial level of capability and is ready to support U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) requirements. The Block 10 satellite is the only space-based sensor in the network. It operates 24-hours per day, seven-days per week collecting metric and Space Object Identification data for man-made orbiting objects from low-Earth orbit (LEO) to deep space without the disruption of weather, time of day and atmosphere, which can limit ground-based systems.
Providing improved detection timeliness assists the Joint Space Operations Center with maintaining an accurate knowledge of orbiting object positions, tracking new objects and debris and reducing the number of uncorrelated targets currently in space.
“It’s an agile sensor, so it can be tasked to look at high-interest objects on a more frequent basis,” Robert Davidson, AFSPC’s space superiority division chief, said in a statement.
SBSS Block 10 was launched aboard an Orbital Sciences [ORB] Minotaur IV rocket from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., in September 2010. The first signals from the satellite were received a short time later at the Satellite Operations Center at Schriever AFB, Colo.
SBSS Block 10 has a 500-pound optical camera mounted on an electronically movable gimbal which allows ground controllers to quickly swivel the camera between targets without having to expend the time and fuel to reposition the entire spacecraft, according to prime contractor Boeing [BA].
Boeing and Ball Aerospace & Technologies, a division of Ball Corp. [BLL], teamed on the program with Ball Aerospace developing and delivering the entire space segment, according to a Ball statement. Prime contractor-Boeing has overall responsibility for the SBSS system, including the ground system and initial mission operations. Other subcontractors include Harris IT Services, a division of Harris [HRS], providing the satellite command and control (C2) software (OS/COMET) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Lincoln Labs supplying mission planning software and ground-based mission data processing software, according to Boeing.