WASHINGTON, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin announced Monday that its work on the U.S. Air Force's Space-Based Infrared System has reached "major milestones," having finished work on remaining major spacecraft subsystems of the second geosynchronous orbit spacecraft.
The company said in a statement that GEO-2 spacecraft's core structure and propulsion subsystem was finished and its high-performance communications subsystem for the spacecraft was sent to the Air Force earlier this month.
Work on the SBIRS communications system was carried out at Lockheed Martin's plant in Newtown, Pa., and the system was then sent to Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, Calif.
Lockheed Martin said the new communications subsystem would "deliver anti-jam, survivable communications and data from the infrared payload to the war fighter and provide worldwide coverage of missile launch detection and defense data. The subsystem also provides secure command and control of the satellite by continuous interaction with ground stations."
Lockheed Martin said the new space system was vital "for maneuvering the satellite during transfer orbit to its final location as well as conducting on-orbit repositioning maneuvers throughout its mission life."
The company said the system was built at its Mississippi Space and Technology Center, which it described as "an advanced propulsion, thermal, and metrology facility located at the John C. Stennis Space Center."
Lockheed Martin said the SBIRS propulsion subsystem design was modeled on the company's veteran and well-regarded A2100 geosynchronous spacecraft series. The SBIRS propulsion subsystem has 18 reaction engine assemblies, a fuel tank, two oxidizer tanks and a liquid apogee engine, it said.
Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems in Azusa, Calif., plans to send over its fully tested GEO-2 Infrared Payload to the Lockheed Martin integration team on the SBIRS project by April 2009. Lockheed Martin said it plans to start the vehicle integrated test flow on the SBIRS project by summer 2009 and to fire the satellite system into orbit during Fiscal Year 2011.
"The team has maintained excellent focus on meeting GEO-2 delivery commitments while achieving the significant GEO-1 environmental test milestones that lead to the critical launch of the first GEO satellite," Keoki Jackson, Lockheed Martin's SBIRS GEO-2 program manager, stated in the news release.
Lockheed Martin described the SBIRS program as "designed to provide early warning of missile launches, and simultaneously support other missions including missile defense, technical intelligence and battle-space characterization."
"The combined team continues to make substantial progress as we work together to deliver unprecedented SBIRS capabilities to the war fighters and national decision makers," U.S. Air Force Space Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Heath Collins stated.
The SBIRS project is run by the Space Based Infrared Systems Wing at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. in Sunnyvale, Calif., remains the SBIRS prime contractor, and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems in Azusa, Calif., remains the payload integrator. The U.S. Air Force Space Command runs the SBIRS system.
Lockheed Martin said its SBIRS contract covers the two HEO payloads currently in orbit, two GEO satellites and ground-based equipment that gathers and analyzes the infrared data transmitted from the satellites. Further SBIRS GEO spacecraft and HEO payloads are being developed, the company said.