Boeing Completes Update of U.S. Air Force Telescope

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Boeing has completed a two-year modernization effort for a U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory telescope used for space situational awareness, the company said June 20.

The Air Force declared initial operational capability (IOC) for the Advanced Electro-Optical System (AEOS) in late March, Boeing spokeswoman Elizabeth Merida said via email June 22. IOC certifies that the telescope is ready to provide surveillance of objects in near-Earth and deep-space orbits, according to the Boeing press release.

AEOS is one of six telescopes at the Maui Space Surveillance Complex in Haleakala, Hawaii, that are used to track space objects including satellites and debris. Boeing is responsible for replacing the aging sensors, control software and computer systems for all of those telescopes.

“Achieving IOC is an important milestone that will allow the Air Force Research Laboratory to achieve its mission for many years to come,” Col. Joseph Romero, chief of the optics division within the lab’s directed energy directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., said in a prepared statement. “These valuable telescope systems are a critical national asset, and keeping them current is important to continuing our space surveillance and research mission.”

AEOS is the largest telescope in the U.S. Defense Department’s inventory, according to the press release. It is 3.64 meters in diameter and weighs 68.25 metric tons.