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SBIRS satellite readied for launch

Jan. 17, 2013 at 12:54 PM

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- A second U.S. military infrared surveillance satellite has been delivered to Cape Canaveral in Florida for launch later this year.

Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Air Force said the Geosynchronous Earth Orbit, Space-Based Infrared System spacecraft features carries a variety of sensor payloads for improved missile warning capabilities as well as enhanced technical intelligence and battlespace awareness.

"We performed a disciplined integration and test campaign for GEO-2 and are now looking forward to successfully launching this spacecraft to ultimately help protect our nation and allies with unprecedented global, persistent infrared surveillance capabilities," said Jeff Smith, vice president of Lockheed Martin's Overhead Persistent Infrared mission area. "As we continue to produce SBIRS assets, we expect to drive even greater efficiency into our operations to reduce costs for the government while still ensuring mission success."

The satellite, transported by aircraft to Cape Canaveral from California, is scheduled to be launched into Earth orbit in March.

Engineers are now engaged in post-shipment testing, fueling the satellite's propulsion system and fitting the spacecraft inside the launch vehicle.

Under contract to the U.S. Air Force, Lockheed is building four satellites and ground assets to receive, process and disseminate satellite data. The company, however, said it has begun initial work on a fifth and sixth SBIRS.

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