Nearly two years after its launch into orbit, the Air Force’s Space Based Space Surveillance Block 10 satellite is ready to commence initial operations, announced service space officials on Aug. 20. Air Force Space Command boss Gen. William Shelton declared on Aug. 17 that the satellite had reached the initial-operational-capability milestone, they said in a release. The spacecraft is now available to support US Strategic Command, states the release. “The SBSS satellite will provide needed capability to the national deep-space space situational awareness in terms of timely revisit of high-interest objects and increased capacity to meet current and future warfighter SSA needs,” said Robert Davidson, AFSPC’s space superiority division chief. Boeing and Ball Aerospace supplied the satellite, which the Air Force placed into space in September 2010. The taskable, dedicated sensor is the only space-based asset in the nation’s space-surveillance network, according to the release. It’s capable of monitoring man-made objects from its perch in geostationary orbit without the disruption of weather, time of day, or atmosphere that can limit ground-based systems. “It’s an agile sensor, so it can be tasked to look at high-interest objects on a more frequent basis,” said Davidson.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has officially announced plans to issue multiple sole-source contracts to Pratt & Whitney to upgrade the fighter’s F135 engine—a widely expected move after Pentagon officials indicated they would do so earlier this year instead of developing an entirely new engine.