U.S. Air Force Poised to Launch Nation’s Next Infrared Surveillance Satellite
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., March 18, 2013 --- The U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin [NYSE : LMT] are ready to launch the second Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO-2) spacecraft on Tuesday, March 19 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The launch window is 5:21 EDT to 6:01 p.m. EDT.
A live launch broadcast will begin at 5:01 p.m. EDT and will be accessible via the ULA webcast.
Featuring a mix of satellites in geosynchronous orbit, hosted payloads in highly elliptical earth (HEO) orbit, and ground hardware and software, the SBIRS program delivers resilient and improved missile warning capabilities for the nation while also providing significant contributions to the military's missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness mission areas.
“We understand the important role SBIRS plays in our national security architecture and the entire SBIRS team has worked tirelessly to prepare this satellite for a successful launch,” said Jeff Smith, Lockheed Martin's vice president of Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) mission area. “The dedication and talent of this SBIRS team is remarkable and we are keenly focused on delivering mission success for the warfigher.”
Lockheed Martin’s SBIRS contracts include four HEO payloads, four GEO satellites, and ground assets to receive, process, and disseminate the infrared mission data. The team has also begun procuring long lead parts for the fifth and sixth GEO satellites. HEO payloads and the first GEO satellite have already launched into orbit.
GEO-1 is meeting or exceeding performance expectations on its path to operational certification. The satellite’s sensor pointing accuracy is nine times more precise than required and the sensors are detecting targets 25 percent dimmer than required with an intensity measurement 60 percent more accurate than specification.
The SBIRS team is led by the Infrared Space Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Lockheed Martin is the SBIRS prime contractor, Northrop Grumman is the payload integrator. Air Force Space Command operates the SBIRS system.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 120,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration, and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products, and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2012 were $47.2 billion.
In the last photo taken of the U.S. Air Force’s second Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Geosynchronous (GEO-2) satellite on earth, an Atlas V payload fairing closes around the satellite in advance of its March 19 launch. Once fully encapsulated, the payload fairing keeps the satellite safe and secure on its journey into space.
Check out highlights from the successfully first SBIRS launch in May 2011.