The SWFO-L1 contract covers work scheduled to be completed in March 2025.
“With the SWFO-L1 spacecraft, Ball Aerospace is leveraging our experience building NOAA operational weather satellites such as NOAA-20,” Makenzie Lystrup, Ball Aerospace Civil Space vice president and general manager, told SpaceNews by email. “We are excited for the opportunity to continue our work with NOAA and NASA with this latest mission, which will provide the nation with critical information to help predict and forecast space weather in order to protect life and property.”
The SWFO-L1 satellite is scheduled to launch in 2024 alongside NASA’s Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe, a mission to investigate particles streaming to Earth from the edges of interstellar space. The SWFO-L1 mission is designed to collect solar wind data and coronal imagery to help NOAA monitor and forecast solar storm activity, once the current solar sensors stop working.
SWFO-L1 instruments include the Naval Research Laboratory’s Compact Coronagraph, the Supra Thermal Ion Sensor from the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, and a magnetometer from the Southwest Research Institute.
For the SWFO-L1 award to Ball Aerospace, NASA relied on its Rapid III Spacecraft Catalog. The Rapid III Spacecraft Catalog is designed to streamline the procurement process for NASA and other federal agencies buying spacecraft and support for scientific and technical missions.
In addition to SWFO-L1, Ball Aerospace of Boulder, Colorado, is building a weather satellite for the U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center called Weather System Follow-on.