The U.S. Air Force has delayed its planned competition to build a second Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) satellite, a service official said Sept. 16.

The first SBSS satellite, which will use an optical telescope to keep tabs on objects in geostationary orbit, was built by Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems of Seal Beach, Calif., and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colo. The satellite’s development took longer than expected, and its launch has been further delayed almost a year due to problems with its new Minotaur 4 launch vehicle. The Air Force now plans to launch the satellite on Sept. 26.

The service in April announced plans to hold an open competition to build a second SBSS satellite with requirements identical to the first. Plans at the time called for awarding a contract to build the satellite in early 2011 with a launch to occur in late 2014.

However, the release of a final request for proposals for the SBSS follow-on satellite will now take place no sooner than early 2011, Air Force spokesman Joe Davidson said.

“The Air Force is committed to delivering capability on time, consistent with warfighter requirements and funding,” Davidson said in an e-mailed response to questions. “Our current plan is to release the final request for proposal no sooner than [the first quarter of 2011] and contract award will be timed appropriately following [its] release.”

In addition to Boeing and Ball Aerospace, an Air Force document posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website lists Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems and Orbital Sciences Corp. as potential prime contractors for the satellite.