WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force is offering few details on its decision to delay the launch of its Wide-Field-of-View Testbed, which was set to lift off this spring.
“National security space launches are incredibly complex and can be delayed for any number of reasons,” spokesman Jim Spellman told C4ISRNET in an email. “All issues, concerns and questions must be satisfactorily resolved prior to moving forward.”
The WFOV testbed, a pathfinder mission meant to inform the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program, is part of the USSF-12 mission, which also includes an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adaptor with added propulsion, power and avionics. United Launch Alliance, the launch provider for the mission, announced last week it had been delayed “due to a customer request.”
Spellman said the service does not have a new projected launch timeline and declined to confirm whether the delay was related to the satellite or the launch vehicle.
“We have no specifics to offer at this time on the exact cause for the delay, but we are working to get USSF-12 back on the launch schedule as soon as possible,” he said.
The WFOV testbed, previously expected to launch in August 2021, was developed by Millennium Space Systems and includes an advanced missile warning staring sensor built by L3Harris Technologies. The experiment, destined for geosynchronous orbit, is designed to shape requirements for future Next-Gen OPIR capabilities and help the service better understand what future ground architecture may be needed to process larger amounts of data from advanced sensors.
Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are making progress on the Next-Gen OPIR program of record. Lockheed is developing three GEO satellites and Northrop two polar satellites, and both companies selected payload providers earlier this month.
Courtney Albon is C4ISRNET’s space and emerging technology reporter. She has covered the U.S. military since 2012, with a focus on the Air Force and Space Force. She has reported on some of the Defense Department’s most significant acquisition, budget and policy challenges.