Space Based Space Surveillance


The Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) system is a planned constellation of satellites and supporting ground infrastructure that will improve the ability of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) to detect and track space objects in orbit around the Earth. The primary SBSS contractor, Boeing, characterizes some orbiting space objects as, "Potential future threats to the United States' space assets."[1]

The SBSS development work is being conducted in coordination with the Space Situational Awareness Group in the Space Superiority Systems Wing of the United States Air Force. The commander of the Space Situational Awareness Group believes the SBSS satellite operations center, "Will transform Space Situational Awareness by providing a gateway to a responsive, taskable sensor. This capability is key to enabling the event-driven operations concept of the future."[2]

Pathfinder satellite

SBSS 1 (2010-048A), the first of the SBSS satellites, passing through Cygnus on Sept 1, 2011

The first "pathfinder" satellite of the SBSS system (SBSS 1, aka USA 216, COSPAR 2010-048A, SATCAT 37168) was successfully placed into orbit on board a Minotaur IV rocket on September 26, 2010 (UTC).[3][4] Originally, the launch was scheduled for December 2008 but was rescheduled for Spring of 2009,[5] and again delayed until 22 Oct 2009. The launch delays were caused by problems with the booster, and not the satellite itself.[6] A launch expected for July 8, 2010[7] was also postponed.[8] The program cost $823 million, including satellite, payload, launch, and ground support. (The satellite and payload contracts to Ball Aerospace are approximately 40% of the total.) It is designed to examine every spacecraft in geosynchronous orbit at least once a day.[6]

The SBSS pathfinder satellite has a 30 cm telescope on a two axis gimbal with a 2.4 megapixel image sensor and has a projected mission duration of five and a half years.[9]

Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program

The first two GSSAP spacecraft were launched in 2014, and a further two will be launched in 2016. The first two were built by Orbital Sciences Corporation; their capabilities and development and construction budgets are classified. They operate in "near-geosynchronous orbit,"[10] [11] The first launch was scheduled for 23 July 2014 aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket.[12]

Even during the testing process these satellites were pressed into early service to fulfill critical needs.[13]

On 12 September 2017 the third and fourth satellites were declared operational.[14]

See also


  1. ^ "Boeing and Ball Aerospace Achieve New Milestone for SBSS Program". Boeing. 2008-04-21. Archived from the original on 2008-05-13.
  2. ^ "Boeing Completes Hardware Installation for SBSS Satellite Operations Center". Boeing. 2008-04-28. Archived from the original on 2008-07-04.
  3. ^ "Minotaur IV & V". Orbital Sciences Corporation. 2008.
  4. ^ "Vandenberg launches Minotaur IV". 30th Space Wing Public Affairs. 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-10-07.
  5. ^ "Boeing SBSS System Progressing Toward 1st Launch". 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-02-13.
  6. ^ a b Butler, Amy; Michael Bruno (December 14, 2009). "Boost Despite Gloom". Aviation Week. McGraw-Hill: 34.
  7. ^ Boeing Team Ships First SBSS Spacecraft To Launch Site
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Neighborhood watch in space, Aviation Week and Space Technology, August 4, 2014, p.12
  11. ^ Butler, Amy (21 February 2014). "USAF Reveals Classified, New Spy Satellite". Penton. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  12. ^ Harper, Jon (22 July 2014). "Air Force launching satellites to spy on other satellites". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  13. ^ Gruss, Mike (18 September 2015). "Space Surveillance Sats Pressed into Early Service". SpaceNews. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  14. ^ Espinosa, Shellie-Anne (13 September 2017). "Two new satellites now operational, expand U.S. space situational awareness". Air Force Space Command Public Affairs. Retrieved 15 September 2017.