by Staff Writers
Cape Canaveral AFS FL (SPX) May 09, 2011
The first Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) geosynchronous (GEO-1) spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin for the U.S. Air Force, was successfully launched Friday at 2:10 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
SBIRS GEO-1 is the most technologically advanced military infrared satellite ever developed and will deliver vastly improved missile warning capabilities for the nation while simultaneously improving the Nation's missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness mission areas.
"This successful launch is a tribute to the hard work, dedication and unmatched expertise of the entire government and industry SBIRS team. I am proud of the women and men who have worked on this spacecraft, and am confident the nation will be proud of its performance on orbit," said Brig Gen (select) Roger W. Teague, the U.S. Air Force's Infrared Space Systems Directorate director.
"SBIRS GEO-1 represents the dawn of a new era in overhead persistent infrared surveillance that will greatly improve our national security for years to come."
SBIRS GEO-1 includes highly sophisticated scanning and staring sensors that will deliver improved infrared sensitivity and a reduction in area revisit times over the current constellation.
The scanning sensor will provide a wide area surveillance of missile launches and natural phenomena across the earth, while the staring sensor will be used to observe smaller areas of interest with superior sensitivity.
These dual independent sensors will enhance early warning of missile launches around the globe, support the nation's ballistic missile defense system, greatly expand our technical intelligence gathering capability, and bolster situational awareness for warfighters on the battlefield.
"We understand the importance of the SBIRS mission and are proud to partner with the U.S. Air Force on this critical program," said Jeff Smith, Lockheed Martin's vice president and SBIRS program director.
"Throughout the development of this first-of-its-kind satellite, our SBIRS team has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to operational excellence. As a result, we are confident SBIRS GEO-1 will deliver unprecedented, global, persistent, taskable infrared surveillance capabilities to the warfighter, nation and our allies for years to come."
The SBIRS team is led by the Infrared Space Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Lockheed Martin is the SBIRS prime contractor, with Northrop Grumman as the payload integrator. Air Force Space Command operates the SBIRS system.
"The launch of SBIRS GEO-1 heralds a new era for missile warning and other missions enabled by overhead persistent infrared sensors," said Steve Toner, Northrop Grumman's vice president of OPIR and Azusa Programs.
"We can't wait to turn it on. These sensors are highly capable, and we know that they will be of great value to our war fighters, our nation, and our allies."
Lockheed Martin's original SBIRS contract includes HEO payloads, two geosynchronous orbit (GEO) satellites, as well as ground-based assets to receive and process the infrared data. The team is also under a follow-on production contract to deliver additional HEO payloads and the third and fourth GEO satellites, and associated ground modifications.
45th Space Wing Successfully Launches First SBIRS GEO-1 Satellite
The Atlas V rocket carried into orbit the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO-1 satellite. This SBIRS GEO launch begins the replacement of the Defense Support Program (DSP) constellation, which has been in operations since 1960. SBIRS will provide critical functions for protecting the United States and its allies by supporting four mission areas: Missile Warning (MW), Missile Defense (MD), Battlespace Awareness (BA), and Technical Intelligence (TI).
Gen. William Shelton, Air Force Space Command commander, highlighted this launch was the culmination of many years of hard work and a tremendous team effort.
"Last year, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of DSP. Today, we launched the next generation missile warning capability. It's taken a lot of hard work by the government-industry team and we couldn't be more proud. We look forward to this satellite providing superb capabilities for many years to come," said General Shelton.
Brig. Gen. Ed Wilson, commander, 45th Space Wing, said the entire 45th Space Wing team was also pleased to be a part of this milestone launch.
"The teamwork across the Ai Force Space Command made this launch a success and is another example of how our Air Force delivers assured space launch, range and combat capabilities for the nation," General Wilson said. "On a personal note, it is tremendously gratifying to be involved in the fielding of this next-generation SBIRS capability since my father was involved in the operational standup of the original DSP capability in the early 1970s while he was on active duty."
An Atlas V launches the first Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) geosynchronous (GEO-1) spacecraft. Image by Pat Corkery, United Launch Alliance.
Pratt And Whitney Rocketdyne Boosts Early-Warning Missile Detection System into Orbit
Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne has demonstrated its ongoing commitment to national defense by boosting into orbit the U.S. military's first Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous satellite (SBIRS GEO 1) for early-warning missile detection. The mission was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The Atlas V is powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 booster engine, and the Centaur upper stage is powered by the Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne RL10 engine. Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne is a United Technologies Corp. RD AMROSS LLC is a joint venture of Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne and NPO Energomash.
"Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne's commitment to 100 percent mission success was again demonstrated by the steadfast performance of the RL10 engine, which provided the upper-stage propulsion to boost this national security asset into space right on target," said Jim Maus, director, expendable propulsion programs, Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne. "The RD-180 engine performed exactly as expected, boosting the launch vehicle on the proper trajectory for this important mission," said Tom Wonnell, president and CEO of RD AMROSS. "We congratulate United Launch Alliance on another successful launch."
The Atlas V Centaur upper stage is powered by a single RL10A4-2 engine that delivers 22,300 pounds of thrust. The Atlas V Common Core booster is powered by the RD-180 engine and delivers nearly 1 million pounds of thrust. The RD-180 is the only liquid oxygen-kerosene fueled engine with an oxygen-rich staged-combustion cycle flying in the United States today. Learn about missile defense at SpaceWar.com
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