Military Embedded Systems

Payload for fourth SBIRS Missile Defense Early Warning Satellite delivered to Air Force


October 08, 2014

John McHale

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

Payload for fourth SBIRS Missile Defense Early Warning Satellite delivered to Air Force

SUNNYVALE, Calif. Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman personnel have delivered the payload to the U.S. Air Force for the fourth Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellite of the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS).

The payload -- provided by Northrop Grumman -- will now be integrated with the SBIRS GEO-4 satellite bus in final assembly, integration, and test in Sunnyvale, Calif., at prime contractor Lockheed Martin's satellite manufacturing facility.

The SBIRS program delivers missile warning and infrared surveillance data to the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, combatant commanders, the intelligence community, and other key decision makers. The SBIRS GEO-4 payload has scanning and staring sensors, which will enable the satellite to have improved infrared sensitivity and a reduction in area revisit times over the legacy constellation. The scanning sensor will provide a wide area surveillance of missile launches and natural phenomena across the earth, while the staring sensor will observe smaller areas of interest.

“The completion of this payload is a critical milestone keeping us on schedule for delivering the SBIRS GEO-4 satellite to the Air Force in 2016,” says Louie Lombardo, director of Lockheed Martin’s SBIRS Follow-on Production (SFP) program.

The SBIRS architecture includes a resilient mix of satellites in GEO, hosted payloads in Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO), and ground hardware and software. The GEO-1 and GEO-2 satellites have been launched and both received Air Force Space Command Operational Acceptance in 2013. GEO-3 completed acoustic testing and is now undergoing thermal vacuum testing. In June 2014, the Air Force contracted Lockheed Martin for full production of GEO-5 and GEO-6.

The SBIRS team is led by the Remote Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Lockheed Martin is the SBIRS prime contractor, while Northrop Grumman is the payload integrator. Air Force Space Command operates the SBIRS system.


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