Space Systems Command (SSC), the US Space Force’s space development, acquisition, launch and logistics field command, has successfully launched its electro-optical/infrared weather systems (EWS) cubesat technical demonstration on board the SpaceX Transporter-6 mission from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.
Launched on January 3, 2022, the one-year demonstration will validate emerging space-based EO/IR radiometric imaging technology, using a smaller sensor to provide timely weather imagery data from low Earth orbit (LEO).
Lt. Col. Joe Maguadog, EWS materiel leader and program manager, said, “The EWS cubesat technical demonstration effort represents SSC’s continued commitment to working with non-traditional partners to broaden the competitive industrial base. If successful, this will provide an innovative option to deliver space-based environmental monitoring data to the warfighter at an operationally relevant speed. This demonstration will inform our transition toward a more affordable, scalable and resilient EO/IR weather constellation.”
In February 2022, the EWS program competitively selected two vendors to develop and launch two separate sensor prototypes. Orion Space Solutions, a non-traditional government contractor, delivered the cubesat for the demonstration.
General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems Group will deliver the second prototype by 2025. This launch satisfies the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Congressional mandate to launch a weather EO/IR pathfinder prototype by FY23. The program expects the first transmittal of data early in 2023.