Maui Space Surveillance Complex on Mount Haleakala, Hawaii. Credit: U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force has awarded Boeing a $13.7 million sole-source contract to help design and engineer next-generation electro-optical observing systems and to conduct experiments at two of the service’s space tracking sites, according to a Sept. 30 announcement from the Defense Department.

Boeing’s Laser and Electro-optical Systems Division of Albuquerque, New Mexico, has managed the operations and maintenance at the two sites — the Maui Space Surveillance Complex in Hawaii and the Starfire Optical Range at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico — since 2006.


The two sites are used to observe and track satellites and debris in Earth orbit. The Defense Department’s largest telescope, which weights 75 tons and measures 3.6 meters across, is located on the summit of Mount Haleakala in Maui. A 3.5-meter telescope is housed at Kirtland.

The deal is part of Boeing’s Innovative Research and Optical Site Support contract. The work, which also includes hardware and software experiments, is expected to be completed by March 31, 2016, the announcement said.

Mike Gruss covers military space issues, including the U.S. Air Force and Missile Defense Agency, for SpaceNews. He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.