The Space Force awarded Ball Aerospace $78 million to develop and fabricate the second Weather System Follow-on satellite, according to a Defense Department contract announcement posted Nov. 9.
Filling critical capability gaps such as measurements of ocean surface vector wind, energetic charged particles and tropical cyclone intensity, the WSF space vehicles will join a constellation of Spaced Based Environmental Monitoring satellites to replenish the aging Defense Meteorological Satellite Program.
Ball will build a total of two WSF satellites. Space Vehicle 1 is scheduled to launch in the first quarter of fiscal year 2024 and Space Vehicle 2 will replace the first satellite after it approaches the end of its service life in 2028.
The announcement comes almost four years to the day since an award for development and fabrication of the first satellite, which Inside Defense recently reported is on track for September 2023 delivery following the completion of a set of cybersecurity assessments.
Officials have yet to release the estimated cost of the second space vehicle, whose construction is scheduled to conclude in November 2027. The Government Accountability Office estimated in its annual weapon systems assessment in June that the unit cost was $515 million, though officials previously told Inside Defense that the cost of the first space vehicle was $488 million.