WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin said last week it had initiated a new test phase for the first Space-Based Infrared System geosynchronous orbit -- GEO-1.
The company said in a statement it was now checking out a new version of flight software that had been developed to enhance spacecraft command and control operations.
The U.S. Air Force's ambitious SBIRS infrared satellite program is being developed to boost early warning capabilities about potentially hostile missile launches around the world. It also is designed to support and enhance U.S. space-based programs in other aspects of missile defense, technical intelligence and tactical battlefield support, often referred to as "battle-space awareness."
Lockheed Martin said the GEO-1's new flight software was being subjected to a Baseline Integrated System Test at the company's Space Systems complex in Sunnyvale, Calif. The company said the BIST procedure would check out "the performance of the integrated satellite and establish a performance baseline prior to entering thermal vacuum testing."
"The start of this extensive test is a major achievement that will demonstrate our readiness to proceed with the critical thermal vacuum test phase," said Jeff Smith, Lockheed Martin's SBIRS vice president. "Working closely with our customer, the team continues to make strides on all fronts in preparing GEO-1 for flight, and we look forward to delivering this cutting-edge spacecraft to the war fighter."
Lockheed Martin said its new SBIRS flight software architecture had been developed "to enable robust command and data handling, fault management and safe-hold capabilities on the GEO satellite system."
The company said the new flight software "contains applications that control space vehicle electrical power, temperature, attitude and navigation."
The new software also contains what Lockheed Martin described as "a robust fault management system." This programming "responds when an anomaly is detected during on-orbit operations, putting the satellite into a safe state while operators on the ground analyze the situation and take corrective action," it said.
Lockheed Martin said its software engineers had also equipped the SBIRS GEO-1 spacecraft with a GEO-1 Command and Telemetry Database, known as Database 91, that permits the qualification and delivery of the SBIRS Ground Segment software, and enactment of operational command plans and scripts to be included in projected further GEO-1 inter-segment tests, readiness rehearsals and launch.
The company said the complete SBIRS GEO-1 flight software package was scheduled to be ready next month for the next phase of development and testing. This would be the thermal vacuum testing phase to confirm the spacecraft's performance at temperature extremes greater than those anticipated in the course of its operations while in orbit.
Lockheed Martin said the GEO-1 spacecraft was scheduled to be handed over to the U.S. Air Force in early fiscal year 2010 and then it would be fired into orbit on an Atlas V launch booster.
The company said its SBIRS development team was spearheaded by the Space Based Infrared Systems Wing at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., remains the prime SBIRS program contractor, with Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, Azusa, Calif., as the payload integrator and the U.S. Air Force Space Command directing the SBIRS system, the company said.
Lockheed Martin said its current SBIRS contract involves two High Earth Orbit payloads already deployed in Earth orbit and two GEO satellites, along with ground-based equipment that monitors and analyzes the infrared data sent back from the spacecraft. As we have noted in previous columns, further GEO spacecraft and HEO payloads are currently being developed to be launched at some future date.