Pressing On

Fixing the software issue with the first Space Based Infrared System satellite isn’t affecting the pace of industry’s work in completing the spacecraft’s integration, according to an Air Force official. “The good news is all that kind of work does not have to hold up the assembly, integration, and test of the spacecraft itself,” the USAF official said in a background briefing to reporters on the service’s spending request for its space programs in Fiscal 2009. “So we can continue spacecraft operations in the clean room while we are changing the software, rehosting the software.” The Air Force is still projecting “a late 2009” launch of this SBIRS satellite, which is designated GEO-1 (see below), but this may change, he acknowledged. USAF has programmed about an extra $400 million for SBIRS next year to cover the costs of resolving the software issue, the official said. Essentially engineers found that the method in which the satellite’s flight software system was installed on different processors on the spacecraft would slow down the satellite’s operations. They are instituting a redesign that puts most of the software on one processor. “We’ve done the initial tests on that,” the Air Force official said. “It looks like the idea of hosting almost all the software on one processor is the right idea. … But we’re not finished doing the recoding of the software and the rehosting of the software, so that’s a lot of work in front of the program still.”