CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. --
The U.S. Air Force’s Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) program completed a major program milestone on Oct. 31, 2017, successfully delivering a Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellite Flight-4 to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
“The delivery, launch, and successful operation of GEO Flight-4 will mark the fulfillment of the original SBIRS baseline constellation and reaffirm our commitment to provide our country, warfighters, and senior leaders with timely, reliable, and accurate missile warning and infrared surveillance information,” said Lt. Gen. John Thompson, SMC commander and Air Force program executive officer for space.
The delivery of GEO Flight-4 sets the path for final checkout of the space vehicle before launch. The satellite will be processed at the Payload Processing Facility located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
A combined government and contractor team is already executing the final ground activities including a Launch Base Confidence Test to verify satellite integrity after shipment, an intersegment test to verify communication compatibility from the satellite to the on-orbit operations center and the final battery reconditioning for launch. Following these activities, the satellite will be fueled and prepared for integration with the Atlas V rocket.
“Finalizing the preparations for the fourth launch of a SBIRS GEO satellite is a big deal,” added Col. Dennis Bythewood, director of the Remote Sensing Systems Directorate. “The entire team understands how significant this is, and we’re ready to make it happen,” The GEO Flight-4 satellite is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, in January 2018.
The satellite was transported from the Lockheed Martin satellite integration facility in Sunnyvale, California, via a C-5 Galaxy aircraft. The C-5 crew from the 22nd Airlift Squadron, Travis AFB, California, ensured the satellite was transported safely and according to the time sensitive schedule. The security support provided by the 129th Rescue Wing, California Air National Guard, was essential to the success of the mission.
“The safety of the SBIRS satellite was entrusted to the very best, and we are appreciative of the transport and security services provided by the entire government and contractor team,” Lt. Gen. Thompson said.
The SBIRS constellation is designed to replace the legacy Defense Support Program satellite constellation. SBIRS will continue to provide significantly enhanced capabilities to support missile warning, missile defenses, battlespace awareness and technical intelligence missions.