Press Release

On-orbit checkout of SBIRS payload confirmed

By SpaceRef Editor
November 18, 2006
Filed under , , ,
On-orbit checkout of SBIRS payload confirmed

The Air Force successfully completed initial early on-orbit checkout of the first Space Based Infrared System payload. SBIRS will deliver a new generation of space-based satellites providing missile warning, missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness to combatant commanders.

The SBIRS Wing at the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is developing and acquiring the system, and the 460th Space Wing, headquartered at Buckley AFB, Colo., will operate SBIRS.

“SBIRS presents a new era of global surveillance with the ability to detect and report events that were previously beyond our capabilities, providing greatly improved support to our combatant commanders,” said Gen. Kevin Chilton, commander of Air Force Space Command.

The initial ground phase of SBIRS, called Increment 1, became operational in 2001, using a new consolidated ground architecture that processes data from current on-orbit Defense Support Program satellites. The payload, operating in a highly elliptical orbit, or HEO, is the first component of the Increment 2 constellation, ultimately including two HEO payloads and multiple satellites in geosynchronous earth orbit.

The SBIRS team, composed of personnel from the Air Force as well as Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor, and Northrop Grumman, the payload developer, confirmed the deployment, checkout and testing of the HEO payload, focusing on calibration of the infrared sensors as well as line-of-sight testing. Performance is meeting or exceeding all specified mission requirements. The payload will be fully operationally certified by summer of 2008.

“Launch and checkout of the first SBIRS HEO system is a critical step in demonstrating this important new operational capability,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Hamel, SMC commander. “SBIRS will deliver revolutionary new ways to address some of the most serious threats the nation faces.”

SpaceRef staff editor.