LONDON — Building and launching spacecraft sometimes gets so much attention that the ground segment — user terminals, command and control systems and network operations —isn’t always ready even after a satellite is in space.
Leaders in U.S. military space programs said they are prioritizing the ground segment half of their missions to avoid more scenarios where satellites go underutilized because of incomplete ground segment systems.
Deanna Ryals, Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s chief partnership officer, said one of the big revelations that came from the Air Force’s Wideband Analysis of Alternatives study this summer was the need to prioritize the ground segment in future missions.
“A lot of the results of that [study] were you have to fix the problems on the ground first,” she said Nov. 7 at the 2018 Global MilSatcom conference here. “The problem is not with the spacecraft, it is on the ground.”
Last year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office flagged major ground segment delays in two military satellite programs: GPS 3 and the Mobile User Objective System. Five years of delays with the GPS 3 ground segment, called OCX, led the Air Force to develop two backup ground systems to ...