The Space Force’s next weather satellite program passed its critical design review (CDR) and was granted Milestone B certification over the past month, with personnel pushing through the key milestones while operating under new work guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Weather System Follow-On – Microwave (WSF-M) program will provide the U.S. government and its allies with weather data using space-based passive microwave sensing technology. Those sensors will be able to measure ocean surface wind speed and direction, ice thickness, snow depth and soil moisture.
The CDR was completed in April, per a May 19 release, and the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) used web-hosted meetings, voice teleconferences and “various secure data exchange tools” to work through the review while many workers have a restricted work schedule or are remaining at home throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The Milestone B certification was granted May 15 by Air Force Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Will Roper. Ball Aerospace [BLL] is the contractor for the WSF-M program, and was awarded over $346 million in 2017 to design and build the first satellite system. The Defense Department plans for first launch in 2022, according to a 2019 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).