The 3.6-meter, 75-ton Advanced Electro-Optics System telescope at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Air Force Maui Optical & Supercomputing site is the largest telescope in the Department of Defense. The telescope is designed for collecting data with visible and infrared sensors to track satellites and other objects in the near-Earth region and in deep-space. (Photo courtesy AFRL)

WASHINGTON – Boeing  won a $2.5 million contract to provide research, engineering and program management for U.S. Air Force ground telescopes in New Mexico and Hawaii, the Pentagon announced April 5.

The award, made by the Air Force Research Lab, is part of a $275 million contract vehicle known as RASTER, short for the Research and Development for Advanced Space Superiority Technology and Engineering Requirements.

Boeing is the only contractor for RASTER, a so-called indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract which will include a series of task orders. Three other companies submitted proposals, the Defense Department said.

The work will take place at the Starfire Optical Range at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico and the Air Force Maui Optical and Super Computing Site in Maui, Hawaii, home to the DoD’s largest telescope. The two sites also host several small and medium sized telescopes with a variety of imagers and sensors, all of which contribute to the Air Force’s Space Surveillance Network.

The Air Force uses both sites to find and track satellites, take pictures of them, and characterize other space objects. Boeing said the contract will be used to “to advance scientific and technical knowledge of ground-based space-superiority.”

The April 5 award includes three task orders: one for experiments at the Starfire Optical Range, one for developing enhanced capabilities of the Maui Space Surveillance System, and one for space situational awareness operations at both sites.

“The Boeing team is proud to extend our partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory to accomplish highly-technical research and operation missions with innovation and affordability,” said David DeYoung, director, of Boeing Laser & Electro-Optical Systems said in an April 6 press release. “Boeing will continue to provide flexible, expedient service and ensure uninterrupted operations for AFRL.”

The work is expected to be complete by 2020, the Defense Department 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.