SBSS Craft Finally Nearing Initial Operating Capability

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The U.S. Air Force plans to declare initial operational capability (IOC) for a space surveillance satellite in a few weeks following a major delay related to problems with the spacecraft’s data product, according to a top service official.

The IOC declaration for the Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) Block 10 satellite will be at least nine months late because of data issues and problems with the satellite sensor, according to Gen. William Shelton, commander of Air Force Space Command. He said he directed several additional classified actions for the satellite during an initial IOC review during the fall.

The IOC declaration was originally scheduled for July 1.

The problems were not “life-threatening” for the spacecraft, Shelton told reporters in Washington March 22. He said he wanted to make sure the satellite was ready to provide the service it was designed to provide before notifying the commander of U.S. Strategic Command that IOC has been reached.

The SBSS Block 10 satellite, designed to keep tabs on objects in the geostationary-orbit belt 36,000 kilometers above the equator, was launched in September 2010. The satellite, built by Boeing with Ball Aerospace as a major subcontractor, is part of an emerging space situational awareness architecture that includes ground- and space-based sensors.