US to Launch SBIRS Missile-Detecting Satellite

By on Friday, May 6th, 2011

The U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin are ready to launch the first Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) geosynchronous (GEO-1) spacecraft on Friday, May 6 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

The launch window is 2:14 p.m. EDT to 2:54 p.m. EDT. A live launch broadcast will begin at 1:54 p.m. EDT and will be accessible via the ULA webcast.

SBIRS GEO-1 will enhance early warning of missile launches around the globe, support the nation’s ballistic missile defense system, greatly expand our technical intelligence gathering capability, and provide enhanced situational awareness for warfighters on the battlefield.

“SBIRS GEO-1 represents the dawn of a new era in overhead persistent infrared surveillance that will greatly improve national security for years to come,” said Brig Gen (select) Roger W. Teague, the U.S. Air Force’s Infrared Space Systems Directorate director. “We look forward to getting this next generation system on orbit and delivering its enhanced capabilities to the warfigher.”

The GEO-1 satellite includes highly sophisticated scanning and staring sensors that will deliver enhanced infrared sensitivity and a reduction in area revisit times over the current constellation. The scanning sensor will provide a wide area surveillance of missile launches and natural phenomena across the earth, while the staring sensor will be tasked to observe smaller areas of interest with enhanced sensitivity.

“SBIRS GEO-1 will usher in a new era of critical missile warning capabilities vital to our national security, and we are focused on delivering mission success for the warfighter,” said Jeff Smith, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and SBIRS program director. “The dedication, talent and integrity of the entire SBIRS team has been remarkable, and this launch will be a testament to every individual who has supported this vitally important program.”

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.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 126,000 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 2010 sales from continuing operations were $45.8 billion.

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