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Defence Space

BAE Systems' WSF-M satellite launched

BAE Systems’ Weather System Follow-on – Microwave (WSF-M) satellite was launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California yesterday as part of the US Space Force environmental monitoring programme, set to bridge critical gaps in current space-based environmental monitoring capabilities to advance military operations.

Image courtesy BAE Systems

The US Space Force’s Space Systems Command next-generation operational environmental satellite system will provide valuable data to help ensure the safety and success of warfighters as they carry out their missions around the world.
 
The satellite’s Microwave Imager (MWI) will take passive radiometric measurements at multiple microwave frequencies to gather real-time data on ocean surface winds, tropical cyclone intensity, sea ice, soil moisture and snow depth, all of which are critical gaps in current space-based environmental monitoring capabilities.

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WSF-M also includes a US government-built Energetic Charged Particle (ECP) sensor designed to detect space weather incidents that cause spacecraft anomalies.
 
Together, these measurements will provide the US Department of Defense with the environmental intelligence necessary to properly plan and conduct their military operations.
 
“The launch of WSF-M represents a substantial advancement in our nation’s space-based environmental monitoring capabilities,” said Thai Sheridan, vice president & general manager of Military Space for BAE Systems Space & Mission Systems. “We are honoured to work on such an important project to help safeguard our nation’s and allies’ warfighters and military assets as they take on their biggest challenges.”
 
In addition to building the MWI, BAE Systems also designed and built the satellite bus and led all environmental and mission compatibility testing for the mission. The company was also awarded a follow-on contract to build a second WSF-M satellite, which will be completed in 2026.
 
BAE Systems collaborated with the US Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL) Blossom Point Tracking Facility (BPTF) on development of the ground system. WSF-M launched on a Falcon 9 rocket provided by SpaceX.
 
The launch of WSF-M is the latest achievement in the Space & Mission Systems sector’s history of developing innovations in space-based environmental monitoring systems, which includes work on the NOAA-20 satellite, the Suomi National Polar Orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) and the Space Weather Follow-On (SWFO) mission among others.

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