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SBIRS flight software passes BIST test hurdle

By MARTIN SIEFF, UPI Senior News Analyst   |   Feb. 2, 2009 at 5:31 PM
WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin announced Thursday that its first Space-Based Infrared System -- SBIRS -- geo-synchronous orbit -- GEO-1 -- satellite for the U.S. Air Force has passed a major checkout with new flight software that is designed to streamline secure spacecraft command and control operations.

The SBIRS program was a high-priority project of the Bush administration to create a space-based infrared detection system to give early alerts about missile launches around the world. The SBIRS satellite system is also intended to aid in other major space-based missions such as missile defense, technical intelligence and providing tactical ground combat, or "battle-space," intelligence.

Lockheed Martin said its GEO-1 spacecraft went through its Baseline Integrated System Test -- BIST -- from Jan. 2 to Jan 27, 2009, at the company's Space Systems complex in Sunnyvale, Calif. "The test characterized the performance of the integrated satellite and established a performance baseline prior to entering thermal vacuum testing," the company said.

"This achievement is another example of our effective collaboration and joint commitment to successful execution of this critical national system," said Col. Roger Teague, the U.S. Air Force's SBIRS wing commander. "The team executed a smooth and efficient test, giving us high confidence that we are ready to enter thermal vacuum testing, one of our most critical program milestones."

Lockheed Martin said its SBIRS flight software architecture was "designed to enable robust command and data handling, fault management and safe-hold capabilities on the GEO satellite system."

"The fully integrated GEO-1 satellite utilizing our new flight software architecture performed with outstanding results," said Jeff Smith, Lockheed Martin's SBIRS vice president. "We look forward to proceeding with thermal vacuum testing and delivering the first-of-its-kind data from this spacecraft to the war fighter."

Lockheed Martin said the new flight software utilized in the BIST test could also "control space vehicle electrical power, temperature, attitude and navigation. It also features a robust fault management system, which responds when an anomaly is detected during on-orbit operations, putting the satellite into a safe state while ground operators analyze the situation and take corrective action."

The company said the last flight software block for the SBIRS GEO-1 satellite was scheduled to be completed in February. It then will be monitored in a thermal vacuum test to confirm the GEO-1's performance at levels of heat and cold greater than those anticipated when the spacecraft is functioning in Earth orbit. The integrated GEO spacecraft is scheduled to be handed over to the U.S. Air Force next year and will then be fired into space on an Atlas V booster.

Lockheed Martin noted the SBIRS project was directed 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 SBIRS project prime contractor and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, Azusa, Calif., is the payload integrator. The SBIRS system is run in its operations by the U.S. Air Force Space Command.

Lockheed Martin has constructed the two High Earth Orbit -- HEO -- payloads currently operating in space, two GEO satellites already in orbit and the land installations that gather and analyze the infrared information they transmit.


Raytheon announced Jan. 26 it had won a $154 million Foreign Military Sales contract award to boost the capabilities of Taiwan's Patriot Air and Missile Defense Systems.

Raytheon said it won the contract from the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala. The company said the work will involve improving components for use in radar and command systems, a radar refurbishment, and other engineering and technical services.

"Upgrading Patriot fire units from Configuration-2 to Configuration-3 will provide Taiwan with enhanced system capabilities to meet current and emerging threats," said Sanjay Kapoor, vice president for Patriot Programs at Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems. "These awards are additional indications of the viability of Patriot as a reliable air and missile defense system."

Raytheon noted it also won two previous contracts in 2008 from Taiwan for Patriot system upgrades and technical services.

The new contract will be carried out by Raytheon IDS at the Integrated Air Defense Center, Andover, Mass.; the Warfighter Protection Center, Huntsville, Ala.; the Mission Capability and Verification Center, White Sands, N.M., and Raytheon Technical Services Company in El Paso, Texas, the company said.

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