The Air Force has completed the capability evaluation phase for the the Block 10 increment two upgrade to the Space Based Infrared System missile warning ground system, according to a Dec. 17 release. Members of the 460th Operations Group at Buckley AFB, Colo., conducted a full constellation test, in which the new system simultaneously commanded the full missile warning constellation for the first time. “The completion of full constellation and capability evaluation are major accomplishments and risk reduction efforts on our way to operational acceptance next year,” said Col. Mike Guetlein, Space and Missile Systems Center’s remote sensing systems director. Block 10 will provide increased performance capability in missile warning, missile defense, battlespace awareness, and technical intelligence. It also enables USAF to consolidate operational control of the constellation under one primary mission control station with a single backup control station, states the release. “I’m extremely proud of our airmen, our SMC, and contractor partners who are at the heart of this system,” said Col. John Wagner, 460th Space Wing commander. “They’ve worked diligently around the clock to ensure we have this leap forward in capability as one team.” (See also Next-Gen SBIRS Ground Station Moves to Testing.)
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.