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Fifth missile warning satellite ready for launch, Lockheed Martin announces

Fifth missile warning satellite ready for launch, Lockheed Martin announces
The latest U.S. Space Force Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit satellite, used to detect missile launches, is ready for launch, maker Lockheed Martin said on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin Space

Dec. 2 (UPI) -- The fifth missile warning satellite of the U.S. Space Force has been constructed and is ready for launch, manufacturer Lockheed Martin announced on Wednesday.

The Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit, or SBIRS GEO-5, is scheduled to be launched in 2021 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.

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ULA is a Boeing and Lockheed Martin consortium.

The first satellite in the series was launched in 2011, but the newest version features the LM 2100 military combat bus. The bus, the space vehicle that carries the satellite's sensors and electronics, is designed to "provide greater resiliency and cyber-hardening," Lockheed said in a statement.

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The new satellite also includes "enhanced spacecraft power, propulsion and electronics; common components and procedures to streamline manufacturing, and a flexible design that reduces the cost to incorporate future, modernized sensor suites," according to the company.

The next satellite in the series, GEO-6, and future Next Gen OPIR [Overhead Persistent Infrared missile warning] satellites, will also include the upgrade. GEO-6 is expected to launch by 2022, with the OPIR satellites expected to launch beginning in 2025.

The constellation of U.S. Space Force missile warning satellites are equipped with powerful scanning and staring infrared surveillance sensors.

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The sensors collect data useable in discovering missile launches It also supports ballistic missile defense, expands technical intelligence gathering and improves battlefield situational awareness.

"SBIRS' role as an ever-present, on-orbit guardian against global ballistic missile threats has never been more critical," Tom McCormick, Lockheed Martin's vice in a statement on Wednesday. "In 2019 alone, SBIRS detected nearly 1,000 missile launches, which is about a two-fold increase in two years."

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