Eyes on Orbit

The Air Force’s first Space Based Space Surveillance satellite is now on orbit and has transmitted its first signals from space, according to Air Force and industry officials. “The signals indicate that the satellite is functioning normally and is ready to begin orbital maneuvers and operational testing,” prime contractor Boeing announced Sunday, the day following the satellite’s placement in orbit. Boeing officials expect that the satellite will be turned over to the Air Force and ready to perform its mission within 60 days, after on-orbit testing concludes. An Orbital Sciences Minotaur IV launch vehicle carried SBSS into space from Vandenberg AFB, Calif. SBSS is designed to detect and track orbiting space objects from space. “SBSS will greatly enhance our existing space situational awareness capability,” said Col. Richard Boltz, commander of Vandy’s 30th Space Wing that conducted the launch mission. Ball Aerospace manufactured the satellite. (Vandenberg release) (Boeing release)