Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS)
Orbital Sciences Corporation successfully launched the U.S. Air Force's Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) Satellite, also known as SBSS Block 10, aboard a Minotaur IV rocket. The launch, which took place on Saturday, September 25, 2010 from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California, extended Orbital's record of launches with the Minotaur family of rockets to a perfect 18 successes out of a total of 18 missions. The Minotaur IV rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex-8 at VAFB at 9:41 p.m. (PDT). The rocket flew an orbital trajectory downrange over the Pacific Ocean and delivered the SBSS satellite to the desired separation conditions.
The Minotaur IV rocket was scheduled to launch from Space Launch Complex-8 at Vandenberg Air Force Base Sept. 25 at 9:41 p.m. PDT. The Minotaur IV launched the Space-Based Space Surveillance satellite, a first-of-its-kind satellite that can detect and track orbiting space objects, including potential threats to our space assets and orbital debris. This groundbreaking satellite is the first to track objects in space from space. The launch of the SBSS satellite continues a tradition of teaming between the 30th Space Wing and its launch customers. Existing tracking systems on the ground suffer distortion as they scan through the atmosphere. SBSS won't suffer the same disadvantage. In fact, orbit tracking capability is expected to be 10-times more accurate with this satellite.
With the great importance of space assets to the warfighter as a primary concern, in January 2001, the Rumsfeld Space Commission voiced great concern regarding the vulnerability of US space-based assets, and that a very real threat to these assets would eventually arise. The Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) project is a new start effort in FY02 to acquire a constellation of satellites to conduct Space Situation Awareness (SSA) using visible sensors. A constellation of space-based space surveillance satellites will provide timely space situation awareness to meet future space control operations.
The SBSS is a follow-on to a successful Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) of the Mid-Course Space Experiment/Space Based Visible (MSX/SBV) sensor. The initial SBSS satellite will improve the ability to detect deep space objects by 80% over the MSX/SBV system. DoD's Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) satellite was a late 1990s missile defense test satellite, and by 2002 most of its sensors had failed. However one small package weighing about 20 kg and called the Space-Based Visible sensor is able to search and track satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GEO) using visible light. This has been a phenomenally successful mission, having lowered the number of "lost" objects in GEO orbit by over a factor of two.
The SBSS system will detect and track space objects, such as satellites and orbital debris generating data the Department of Defense will use in support of military operations. NASA may also use the information to calculate orbital debris collision avoidance measures for the International Space Station and Space Shuttle missions. The SBSS mission is a significant stepping stone toward the future of space superiority and a functional space-based space surveillance constellation.
The Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) constellation will conduct timely detection and tracking of all space resident objects in orbit around the earth. This includes collecting, processing, and communicating satellite metric and Space Object Identification (SOI) data. The SBSS will support the attainment of Space Surveillance Key Performance Parameters (KPPs) outlined in the USSPACECOM Capstone Requirements Document (CRD) for Space Control. All of these projects are Budget Activity 7, Operational System Development, because they involve development of or modifications to operational sensor networks.
Block 10 is a pathfinder (one satellite) to replace the aging Space-Based Visible (SBV) sensor. The Block 10 satellite is a pathfinder for the full constellation of space based sensors. Block 20 will provide more robust capability as a follow on to Block 10. The SBSS/Block 20 constellation will include four satellites when fully populated. The Pathfinder launch is scheduled for December 2008, followed by two program down-selects to determine the final development contractor. IOC of the constellation is expected in FY 2013.
Northrop Grumman Space and Mission Systems Corp., Redondo Beach, Calif., was awarded a $46,000,000 cost-plus award-fee contract. Northrop Grumman Mission Systems (NGMS) will develop and deliver an on-orbit Space Based Space Surveillance Pathfinder satellite. These efforts include the purchase of materials and services necessary to design, build, launch and operate this single satellite with a visible sensor payload and to design, build and operate a ground segment to support initial satellite operations. The award was made to NGMS as an undefinitized contract action to an existing contract. The locations of performance are The Boeing Co., Huntington Beach, Calif. and Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp., Defense Systems, Boulder, Colo. Initially, $23,000,000 of the funds has been obligated. This work will be complete by June 2007. The Headquarters Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles, Calif., was the contracting activity (FA8819-04-C-0002).
On May 20, 2004 a Boeing/Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. team was awarded a $189 million contract by the U.S. Air Force for the Space-Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) System. Ball Aerospace is responsible for the space segment including spacecraft bus and visible sensor payload. The team will develop a satellite and the ground segment, and will provide launch services. The team will also be responsible for mission planning, mission data processing and operation of the system for up to one year, prior to transitioning it to the Air Force. The Boeing/Ball team was chosen for the SBSS sub-contract by Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, acting on behalf of the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Northrop Grumman Mission Systems carried out this function through the Mission Area Prime Integration Contract with the Air Force.
Northrop Grumman Space and Mission Systems Corp., Redondo, CA, is on contract to develop and deliver an on-orbit Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) Pathfinder satellite. A team of Boeing and Ball Aerospace is building the SBSS Block 10 system under the direction of Northrop Grumman, which serves as the prime integration contractor. The Northrop Grumman Mission Systems (NGMS) was awarded a $8,969,000 cost-plus award-fee contract modification on October 20, 2004. This change order incorporates design change critical to the development, launch and operation of the SBSS system. The award was made to NGMS as a change order to an existing contract. This work will be complete by June 2007. The Headquarters Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles, Calif., is the contracting activity (FA8819-04-C-0002, P00011).
On November 2, 2004 Boeing announced that in partnership with Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, the Mission Area Prime Integration Contractor, it had successfully completed the Integrated Baseline Review (IBR) for the Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) system. This was a significant program milestone that precedes the Preliminary Design Review (PDR).
On December 17, 2004 Northrop Grumman Space and Mission Systems Corp., Redondo, Beach, Calif., was being awarded a $223,223,113 cost-plus award-fee contract modification. The Northrop Grumman Mission Systems was on contract to develop and deliver an on-Orbit Space Based Space Surveillance Pathfinder satellite. This modification definitized the Unpriced Supplemental Agreement awarded March 26, 2004 (with a not-to-exceed clause) for $46,000,000. The location of performance is The Boeing Co., Huntington Beach, Calif., and Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. At the time of this contract award, $82,708,000 of the funds had been obligated. This work will be complete by June 2007. Negotiations were completed March 2004. The Headquarters Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles, Calif., is the contracting activity (FA8819-04-C-0002, P00016).
In late 2005, an independent review team found that the program's baseline was not executable; that the assembly, integration, and test plan was risky; and that the requirements were overstated. The SBSS program was restructured in early 2006 due to cost growth and schedule delays. The restructuring increased funding and schedule margin; streamlined the assembly, integration, and test plan; and relaxed requirements. The launch of the initial satellite was delayed to April 2009 -- a delay of about 18 months. Cost growth due to the restructure is about $130 million over initial estimates.
With a rich legacy in this technology, Boeing and a best-of-industry team is embarking on the next step under a partnership with Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. Developing a Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) Pathfinder is a low-risk solution with a capability that nearly matches with one satellite the capacity of all the Earth-based optical sensors combined. Furthermore, it offers flexibility to track objects unconstrained by daylight or weather.
The industry team is leveraging expertise in surveillance mission systems engineering and software development under its AFSS unit, and developing high-performance onboard mission data processors at the Satellite Development Center. SBSS is considered an essential element in achieving full SSA capability.
The SBSS program is planned to deliver optical sensing satellites to search, detect, and track objects in earth orbit--particularly those in geosynchronous orbit -- building upon the success of the Space-Based Visible (SBV) technology demonstration. As of early 2008 it was planned that the initial SBSS Block 10 will replace the aging SBV sensor in 2009. As currently planned, the initial block will consist of a single satellite and associated command, control, communications, and computer equipment. Subsequent SBSS efforts will focus on building a larger constellation of satellites to provide worldwide space surveillance of smaller objects in shorter timelines.
A SBSS constellation will eventually provide the coverage required to ensure space superiority capability is available to the warfighter. America's adversaries recognize the country's overwhelming dependence on space assets and the US must have the ability to detect and track space objects-especially those that might be considered a threat.