16 Jan 2018

US Air Force readies SBIRS GEO Flight-4 satellite for launch

The fourth US Air Force Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellite to be built by Lockheed Martin has now been encapsulated.

Completion of this final milestone means that the SBIRS GEO Flight-4 satellite will meet its planned January 18th launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, propelled by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

The encapsulation required the SBIRS GEO Flight-4 to be sealed inside its launch fairing – an aerodynamic outer layer which protects the satellite during lift-off. With the satellite safety housed within, the fairing will now be mounted atop the Atlas V rocket in preparation for launch.

SBIRS GEO Flight-4 is the latest satellite to join the US Air Force’s growing complement of equipment furnished with powerful scanning and infrared surveillance sensors. These sensors will gather data for the US military, helping to detect missile launches, support ballistic missile defence, expand technical intelligence gathering and bolster situational awareness across the battlefield.

A SBIRS ground control system will also serve as the neural hub for the entire satellite constellation, receiving large amounts of data from the powerful sensors. This data will be converted into actionable reports by SBIRS operators for defence, intelligence and civil use.

“SBIRS provides our military with timely, reliable and accurate missile warning and infrared surveillance information,” commented Tom McCormick, Vice President of Lockheed Martin’s Overhead Persistent Infrared systems mission area. “We look forward to adding GEO Flight-4’s capabilities to the first line of defence in our nation’s missile defence strategy.”

Lockheed Martin manufactured the SBIRS GEO Flight-4 satellite at its Sunnyvale, California, facility. The satellite was delivered to Florida on 31st October 2017.

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