LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – The Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit satellite (GEO-3) successfully achieved Air Force Space Command operational acceptance. The satellite is healthy and sending data to the Mission Control Station, operated by the 460th Space Wing located at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado.
SBIRS GEO-3 launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 411 booster on January 19, 2018. Upon separation from the booster, satellite operations personnel began a series of planned Liquid Apogee Engine transfer orbit maneuvers to safely place the spacecraft into its final orbit. GEO-3 reached its intended orbit and began spacecraft checkout activities by deploying the satellite's light shade, solar array wing assemblies, and antenna wing assemblies. With the spacecraft safely on orbit, sensor testing and checkout activities began, leading to a tuned and calibrated payload ready for warfighter use.
The achievement of operational acceptance means the spacecraft's infrared sensors are now considered fully operational and ready for warfighters, said Lt Col Leroy Brown, Jr., Program Manager for SBIRS GEO-3. This is a huge win for the combined Program Office, Lockheed Martin Space, and Northrop Grumman team, as well as, the military, civilian, and civil users of the infrared data the SBIRS satellite constellation provides.
The GEO-3 launch marked the fourth launch of a Geosynchronous satellite, providing worldwide coverage as the Air Force replaces the legacy Defense Support Program missile warning and missile detection satellites that began operations over 45 years ago.
The Remote Sensing Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles AFB in Los Angeles, California manages the SBIRS program. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Sunnyvale, California, is the SBIRS prime contractor, and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, Azusa, California, is the payload integrator. The 460th Space Wing at Buckley AFB in Aurora, Colorado, operates the SBIRS constellation. The SBIRS program delivers timely, reliable and accurate missile-warning and infrared surveillance information to the president of the United States, the secretary of defense, combatant commanders, the intelligence community and other key decision makers. The system enhances global missile launch detection capability, supports the nation's ballistic missile defense system, expands the country's technical intelligence gathering capacity and bolsters situational awareness for warfighters on the battlefield.