Boeing has completed a two-year modernization effort for the Advanced Electro-Optical System, a powerful telescope used for research and space situational awareness by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory.
The Air Force has declared initial operational capability for AEOS, which signifies that the telescope is fully upgraded and ready to provide imagery and surveillance of objects in near-Earth and deep-space orbits.
AEOS, at 12 feet in diameter and 75 tons, is the largest telescope in the U.S. Department of Defense inventory. It is one of a half-dozen highly sophisticated telescopes at the Maui Space Surveillance Complex that are used to track and image space objects such as satellites and manufactured debris.
Under the AFRL’s Innovative Research and Optical Support Services contract, Boeing is responsible for replacing aging sensors, control software and computer systems for the telescopes at the complex.
Boeing and Air Force officials participated in a ceremony on Mount Haleakala on June 13 to celebrate the AEOS milestone as well as the IOC of a 1.6-meter-diameter telescope that Boeing also recently upgraded.
“Achieving IOC is an important milestone that will allow the Air Force Research Laboratory to achieve its mission for many years to come,” said Col. Joseph Romero, chief, Optics Division, AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. “These valuable telescope systems are a critical national asset, and keeping them current is important to continuing our space surveillance and research mission.”
“This major modernization and upgrade is a continuation of Boeing’s two-decade effort to provide technical support for the important research and observations performed at the Maui Space Surveillance Complex,” said Dave DeYoung, director, Boeing Laser Technical Services. “We will continue to listen to and work closely with our Air Force customer so that these telescope systems will remain on the cutting edge of technology.”