The next US Air Force Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS), GEO Flight 3, satellite will launch on 19 January aboard an ATLAS V launch vehicle.

Designed and built by Lockheed Martin, SBIRS satellites provide multi-mission surveillance for applications such as missile warning and defence, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness. Data provided by the constellation, which has a whole-world view from its geosynchronous earth orbit, can also be applied to other government agency missions, such as first response for natural disasters and firefighting.

GEO Flight 4 is planned for launch later this year, while GEO-5 and -6, currently in production, will feature a new common spacecraft bus, the modernised A2100, dramatically reducing costs and cycle times while providing flexibility for future advanced sensor suites.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems is prime contractor for SBIRS, with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems as payload integrator.


The SBIRS constellation provides global coverage of infrared events such as missile launches or large scale fires. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

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