Satellite Technology Feature Article
The Second Lockheed SBIRS Satellite is Ready for Liftoff
By Frank Griffin, TMCnet Contributing Writer
The latest round of saber rattling by the regime in North Korea with their recent successful nuclear detonation and satellite launch is a reminder of why missile warning systems are essential to the protection of the US and its allies. The latest tool in the arsenal of the US military for defensive purposes will be launched aboard the Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on March 19.
The Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO-2) spacecraft is designed to increase missile awareness capability and other critical mission objectives. This satellite contains some of the most technologically advanced surveillance equipment ever designed.
It has scanning and staring sensors that have been improved with infrared sensitivity. This sensor provides surveillance for a wide area for detecting missile launches as well as natural phenomena across the globe. The staring sensor is designed to pinpoint locations of interest with greater intensity and sensitivity to pick up any potential launches or other activity. Besides improving missile-defense it provides technical intelligence and battle-space awareness.
Lockheed Martin has been granted the contract to carry out this project and it includes four highly elliptical Earth orbit (HEO) payloads, four Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit (GEO) satellites and the ground support to receive, process and distribute the infrared data from any mission to the appropriate channels. The information from surveillance is available to the President, the secretary of defense and other key decision-makers in the intelligence community or theater of combat if necessary.
The primary objectives of the SBRIS system are for:
· Missile Warning – to provide reliable and accurate warning to the appropriate channels if and when a missile launch takes place
· Missile Defense – support effective operation of missile defense systems against any threat
· Technical Intelligence – provide technical information by assessing the characteristics of infrared signature events and passing information along to designated personnel
· Battlespace Awareness – SBIRS will help characterize battle space conditions, force protection support, strike planning and other missions and pass the information along to Joint Task Force Commanders, Combatant Commanders and others
The Infrared Space Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center is the team in charge of leading this program.
Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli