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US Air Force's SBSS satellite sends first on-orbit signals

The Space Based Space Surveillance vehicle. A Boeing graphic

EL SEGUNDO, CALIFORNIA (BNS): US Air Force's (USAF) first Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) satellite, which was launched on Sunday, has sent initial on-orbit signals and is functioning normally.

The SBSS block 10 satellite, built-by a Boeing-led team, was launched by an Orbital Sciences Minotaur IV rocket at 9.41 pm Pacific time on Sunday from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

The first signals from the advanced space surveillance satellite were received a short time later, indicating that the satellite is functioning normally and is ready to begin orbital maneuvers and operational testing, Boeing said.

The satellite began an automated sequence that deployed solar arrays, pointed them at the sun, and initialised satellite operations.

For the next two weeks, operators will perform health checks on the satellite bus, followed by payload checkout. The SBSS system is expected to be ready to perform its mission and be turned over to the Air Force within 60 days, Boeing said.

The SBSS satellite, equipped with an optical telescope to monitor objects in the geostationary orbit, including debris, satellites and other space matter without disruptions from weather, atmosphere or time of day that limit ground-based observations, will serve as the USAF's only space-based sensor.


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