[Satellite News 12-16-11] Lockheed Martin reported that it has reached key milestones on two of its largest government/military GEO satellite programs, as the manufacturer delivered the first Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., and completed thermal vacuum testing on the U.S. Air Force's second Space Based Infrared System geosynchronous satellite (SBIRS GEO-2).
The company confirmed Dec. 16 that the U.S. Navy’s MUOS satellite would be prepared at Cape Canaveral for its scheduled launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket on Feb. 16. The spacecraft will undergo post-shipment testing, fueling, payload fairing encapsulation and mate atop the Atlas 5 launch vehicle.
The MUOS network consists of four GEO satellites, an additional on-orbit spare and a fiber optic terrestrial network connecting four ground stations around the globe. Each satellite will feature two payloads that aim to enable the system to integrate with the military’s existing architecture, while upgrading military users to the new wideband code division multiple access (WCDMA) system. MUOS’ mission is to provide mobile point-to-point and netted communications services at enhanced data rates and priority-based access to on-demand voice, video and data transfers to warfighters.
Lockheed Martin Vice President and MUOS Program Manager Mark Pasquale said the second MUOS space vehicle is currently undergoing environmental testing, which will validate its performance in a simulated space environment, and that the second and third MUOS satellites are also steadily progressing in the production flow. “The system will provide military users 16 times the communications capacity of existing satellites, including simultaneous voice, video and data capability enhancements, and we look forward to achieving mission success for our customer,” Pasquale said in a statement.
Separately, the manufacturer announced that it completed thermal vacuum testing for the U.S. Air Force’s second SBIRS GEO-2, which included putting the satellite through extreme hot and cold temperatures to verify its functionality and performance.
“The GEO-2 team has done a tremendous job in utilizing lessons learned from GEO-1 in order to streamline the GEO-2 test schedule and deliver this essential asset to the user as quickly as possible,” said Air Force Col. SBIRS Troy Brashear, who also serves as SBIRS’ engineering and manufacturing development program manager. “SBIRS satellites improve the U.S. military’s missile warning capabilities and provide superior technical intelligence and battle space awareness through advanced scanning and staring sensors that deliver improved infrared sensitivity.”
With the completion of thermal vacuum testing, Lockheed Martin will now conduct final factory work on the satellite and conduct integrated spacecraft and system testing. “With the completion of environmental testing on GEO-2, the government and industry team is well positioned to deliver this vital spacecraft for launch,” said Lockheed Martin SBIRS Deputy Program Manager Dave Sheridan. “As we continue building dedicated SBIRS satellites and hosted payloads, we are committed to driving even greater efficiency and affordability into the program while delivering maximum value to the government.”
The satellite’s predecessor, SBIRS GEO-1, was launched in May. The Lockheed Martin-built SBIRS GEO-1 missile warning satellite delivered its first infrared imagery to its U.S. Air Force ground station in July.
Lockheed Martin said the SBIRS GEO-1 spacecraft is performing as expected and undergoing early orbit testing. The satellite aims to enhance the U.S. military's ability to detect missile launches around the globe, support the U.S. Department of Defense’s ballistic missile defense system, expand technical intelligence gathering capability and bolster situational awareness for warfighters.
“The U.S. Air Force/Lockheed Martin SBIRS ground team executed a series of six Liquid Apogee engine burns to propel the spacecraft to its geosynchronous orbital slot. The team then deployed the satellite's solar arrays, light shade and antenna wing assemblies. Most recently, the team opened the satellite's payload doors and activated its infrared sensors to begin the start of early orbit calibration and testing,” Lockheed Martin said in a company statement.
Lockheed Martin is acting as the Air Force’s SBIRS prime contractor, with Northrop Grumman as the payload integration subcontractor.