Ball Aerospace has successfully completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Space Weather Follow On-Lagrange 1 (SWFO-L1) spacecraft — with the PDR completed, the spacecraft now moves into the critical design phase.
Ball was awarded the contract to design and build the SWFO-L1 spacecraft on June 25, 2020, by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center on behalf of NOAA. SWFO-L1 is an operational mission that will collect solar wind data and coronal imagery to meet NOAA’s operational requirements to monitor and forecast solar storm activity. SWFO-L1 will be launched to an L1 orbit, which will allow for upstream solar wind measurements and continuous unobstructed observation of the sun’s corona without interference from the Earth.
The SWFO-L1 spacecraft is based on the Ball Configurable Platform (BCP), which is a customizable and proven spacecraft, designed for flexible, cost-effective applications, using a common spacecraft bus and standard payload interfaces to reduce cost, streamline payload accommodation and minimize delivery time. Ball has a heritage of building spacecraft for NOAA’s operational weather missions, including NOAA-20 and the Suomi National Polar Orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP).
“Space weather events, such as solar flares, coronal mass ejections and other high-energy emissions from the sun, can endanger astronauts in space, interfere with satellites and damage communications and power grid infrastructure, causing significant economic impact,” said Dr. Makenzie Lystrup, vice president and general manager, Civil Space, Ball Aerospace. “Once on-orbit, SWFO-L1 will provide the nation with critical space weather information to help protect life and property and we are excited to partner with NOAA and NASA Goddard on this important mission.”