[Satellite TODAY Insider 06-06-12] The Lockheed Martin-built Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) geosynchronous (GEO-1) satellite is exceeding performance expectations and is on schedule to achieve operational certification later this year, the manufacturer announced June 5.
The SBIRS GEO-1 satellite was built for the U.S. Air Force and launched by United Launch Alliance May 7 aboard an Atlas 5 rocket. The satellite aims to enhance the U.S. military’s ability to detect missile launches around the globe, support the U.S. ballistic missile defense system, expand technical intelligence gathering capabilities and bolster situational awareness for warfighters on the battlefield.
The SBIRS architecture features GEO satellites, payloads in highly elliptical Earth orbit (HEO), and associated ground hardware and software.
Lockheed said that SBIRS began sharing initial GEO-1 satellite data within two months after the launch. The Air Force reported that the spacecraft’s GEO-1 sensors are detecting targets 25 percent dimmer than required with an intensity measurement that is 60 percent more accurate than specification.
“The sensor pointing accuracy is nine times more precise than required,” Air Force Lt. Col. Ryan Umstattd, the SBIRS lead for GEO-1 certification, said in a statement. “The outstanding performance trends we’ve seen give us confidence as we head into our extensive, integrated developmental and operational testing campaign.”
Umstattd added that the Air Force’s interim mission performance results indicate that GEO-1 has already demonstrated the ability to meet more than 90 percent of U.S. Air Force Space Command’s performance requirements for operational use.
Lockheed Martin SBIRS Systems Engineering, Integration and Test Director Michael O’Hara said the remaining performance refinements are on track to be completed well before the satellite is fully certified for operations by U.S. Strategic Command later this year.
“SBIRS GEO-1 is performing exceptionally well and its data is providing tremendous value to the user community,” said O’Hara. “We are focused on fully certifying this spacecraft for operational use and delivering a true national asset protecting our homeland, allies, warfighters and citizens for decades to come.”
Lockheed Martin’s SBIRS contracts include four HEO payloads, four GEO satellites and ground assets to command the spaceraft and receive, process and disseminate the infrared mission data. Two HEO payloads and the first GEO-1 satellite have already been launched.