Just over nine-months since its May 7, 2011 launch, Lockheed Martin’s first space based infrared system (SBIS) geosynchronous (GEO-1) satellite is now delivering critical infrared data to users.
Launched on May 7, 2011, the U.S. Air Force’s satellite—designated SBIRS GEO-1—is currently undergoing an operational certification process, Lockheed said. Nonetheless, data from the spacecraft will enhance the military’s ability to detect 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, the company said.
The spacecraft is the most technologically advanced military infrared satellite ever developed and includes highly sophisticated scanning and staring sensors that deliver improved infrared sensitivity and a reduction in area revisit times over the current constellation, Lockheed said.
The scanning sensor scrutinizes a wide area keeping watch for missile launches and natural phenomena, while the staring sensor can be used to observe smaller areas of interest with superior sensitivity, according to Lockheed. The satellite’s sensors are now performing at better than specification levels and producing and delivering pre-certified data to the user community, the firm says.
“We are looking forward to fully certifying this spacecraft for operational use and delivering these new infrared surveillance capabilities to the nation,” said Col. Jim Planeaux, director of the U.S. Air Force's Infrared Space Systems Directorate.
Not long after its launch, the satellite activated its sophisticated infrared sensors and transmitted its first infrared payload data on June 21, 2011, Lockheed said. The satellite is now being repositioned to its final orbital location and completing all steps necessary for certification. The process includes an Air Force evaluation in the operational environment, and culminates with Air Force Space Command's operational acceptance and the United States Strategic Command's certification of the proven SBIRS GEO system.
“This satellite is delivering outstanding data to the user community and is performing exceptionally well as it proceeds through its rigorous certification process,” said Jeff Smith, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) mission area. “The government and industry team is focused on executing a smooth certification process and delivering the full value of SBIRS to the warfighter.”