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SBIR GEO-1 in orbit

May 25, 2011 at 7:17 AM   |   Comments

DENVER, May 25 (UPI) -- The first U.S. Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous spacecraft for the military is in orbit and is performing as required.

Lockheed Martin, which built the spacecraft said the U.S. Air Force/Lockheed Martin SBIRS ground team executed a series of six engine burns to position the spacecraft to its geosynchronous orbital slot.

The team deployed the satellite's solar arrays, light shade and antenna wing assemblies in preparation for activating its infrared sensors and the start of early orbit testing.

The satellite was launched May 7, from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

SBIRS GEO-1 is the most technologically advanced military infrared satellite ever developed and will enhance early warning of missile launches around the globe, support the nation's ballistic missile defense system, greatly expand technical intelligence gathering capability, and bolster situational awareness for warfighters on the battlefield.

"Successfully reaching orbit and conducting deployments is a tremendous milestone for the SBIRS GEO-1 spacecraft," said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. (select) Roger W. Teague, the director of the U.S. Air Force's Infrared Space Systems Directorate. "Thanks to a very talented and dedicated team, this first-of-its-kind spacecraft has performed flawlessly.

"We anticipate continued success as we progress toward payload activation in the near future."

SBIRS GEO-1 includes highly sophisticated scanning and staring sensors that will deliver improved infrared sensitivity and a reduction in area revisit times over the current constellation of surveillance satellites.

The SBIRS team is led by the Infrared Space Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Lockheed Martin is the SBIRS prime contractor, with Northrop Grumman as the payload integrator.

Lockheed Martin's original SBIRS contract includes HEO payloads and two geosynchronous orbit satellites, as well as ground-based assets to receive and process the infrared data. The team is also under a follow-on production contract to deliver additional HEO payloads and the third and fourth GEO satellites, and associated ground modifications.

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