The first Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) geosynchronous (GEO-1) spacecraft launched a month ago, has begun delivering infrared imagery to the SBIRS ground station. The satellite includes highly sophisticated scanning and staring sensors that will provide wide area surveillance of missile launches and natural phenomena across the globe, while the staring sensor will be capable of observing much smaller areas of interest with vastly increased sensitivity. The system will massively enhance the U.S. military's ability to detect missile launches around the globe, significantly improve technical intelligence gathering capability, and increase situational awareness on the battlefield.
Following the May 7 launch, the U.S. Air Force/Lockheed Martin SBIRS ground team executed a series of six Liquid Apogee Engine (LAE) burns to propel the spacecraft to its geosynchronous orbital slot. The team then deployed the satellite's solar arrays, light shade and antenna wing assemblies. Most recently, the team opened the satellite's payload doors and activated its sophisticated infrared sensors to begin the start of early orbit calibration and testing.
"SBIRS GEO-1 is performing flawlessly thus far, and the first image sent from the satellite is outstanding," said Jeff Smith, vice president of Lockheed Martin's Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) mission area. "We are focused on executing an efficient and thorough checkout of the spacecraft and ultimately delivering unprecedented infrared surveillance capabilities to our nation."
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, with Northrop Grumman as the payload integrator. Air Force Space Command operates the SBIRS system.
Lockheed Martin's original SBIRS contract includes HEO payloads, two geosynchronous orbit (GEO) satellites, as well as ground-based assets to receive and process the infrared data. The team is also under a follow-on production contract to deliver additional HEO payloads and the third and fourth GEO satellites, and associated ground modifications.