In May, the Space Force will launch the fifth SBIRS satellite


Last week, a $1.6 billion satellite for the Space Based Infrared System landed at the Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Lockheed Martin-built satellite is set to deploy on the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket on May 17, the United States Space Force reported on March 24. The fifth satellite in the Space Based Infrared System plan is the geosynchronous SBIRS GEO-5. SBIRS GEO-5 production was finished in December, according to Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed Martin confirmed on December 2 that the fifth satellite in the Space Based Infrared System constellation had been launched. SBIRS GEO-5, a geosynchronous satellite, is expected to fly in 2021 on the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 spacecraft. Today, there are four geosynchronous SBIRS satellites in space. The multibillion-dollar spacecraft is outfitted with efficient scanning as well as staring infrared surveillance sensors capable of detecting missile launches anywhere on the planet.

SBIRS GEO-1 was launched on May 7, 2011; GEO-2 was launched on March 19, 2013; GEO-3 was launched on January 20, 2017; and GEO-4 was launched on January 19, 2018. “In only the last two years, SBIRS has observed almost one thousand missile deployments,” stated Tom McCormick, Lockheed Martin’s vice president in charge of the overhead persistent infrared systems. SBIRS GEO-5, according to Lockheed Martin, is the very first military satellite to use the LM 2100, a modern bus built by the corporation. The SBIRS GEO-6, which will debut in 2022, is also based on that bus.

The LM 2100 bus is also the basis for triple missile-warning satellites that Lockheed Martin is building to substitute SBIRS in the future. The Block 0 GEO satellites of the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next Gen OPIR) are scheduled to deploy in 2025. SBIRS satellites track missile launches and provide early notice by utilizing gazing and scanning infrared sensors.

The first satellite was deployed in 2011, followed by a second in 2013, a third in 2017, and finally a fourth in 2018. SBIRS GEO-6, the last satellite, will arrive in 2022. According to ULA, the Atlas 5 will be configured as a 421 for this flight, with the 4-meter payload fairing, a single engine upper stage and two strap-on solid boosters.

SBIRS GEO-5, according to Lockheed Martin, is the very first satellite to use the LM 2100 Combat Bus, a commercial version of the LM 2100 bus with upgraded protection features. On that bus, SBIRS GEO-6 is also being installed. The SBIRS constellation was created to substitute Defense Support Program, a Northrop Grumman-built early warning satellite program that has been in use since the 1970s. Both Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin have been awarded contracts to build Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared missile detection satellites.

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