The U.S. Space Force is requesting $131 million to support continued efforts to deploy space-based sensor technologies to low-Earth orbit for combat-focused weather imaging operations in fiscal year 2021, C4ISRnet reported Monday.
This summer, the military branch issued contracts to Raytheon Technologies, Astra and General Atomics to prototype space-based sensor systems with cloud characterization elements for LEO weather imaging applications.
Col. Russell Teehan, a portfolio architect at the Space and Missile Systems Center, told the publication in an interview that the Space Force plans to spend $30 million to $50 million for small satellites that will make up a “proliferation LEO” constellation to support theater operations.
“[T]he activities in the past were generally $700 million-plus individual systems, which forced us into architectures that were [made up of less than five satellites] that were significantly vulnerable if we were in a time of conflict,” he said.
The new prototyping initiative builds on the U.S. Air Force’s efforts to replace its legacy Defense Meteorological Satellite Program since 2015, according to the report.