Excited About Space Surveillance Satellite

The Air Force’s Space Based Space Surveillance satellite is “exceeding performance expectations” on orbit, Maj. Gen. John Hyten, USAF’s director of space acquisition policy, told Senate overseers during a space hearing. He said the satellite is “demonstrating excellent focus, high stability, and superb photometric sensitivity.” SBSS reached orbit last September. The satellite’s taskable optical camera is designed to detect and track deep-space objects for safety of flight, threat detection, and warning. It’s the Air Force’s first dedicated on-orbit asset for this role, with the ability to operate day or night, without weather interference. Appearing with Hyten, Gen. William Shelton, Air Force Space Command boss, said the satellite took its first image in October and initial data are “superb.” The satellite will provide an increased volume of data that will outstrip the analytic and processing capacity at the Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., “driving an urgent need to upgrade” the center’s systems, testified Lt. Gen. Susan Helms, 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic) commander. Boeing and Ball Aerospace supplied the satellite. (Helms written statement) (Hyten prepared remarks) (Shelton written testimony) (See also What’s Next for SBSS)