Air Force and Lockheed Martin Look to Add SBIRS Satellites

Jan. 21, 2017
Although rescheduled at least once, the launch of SBIRS GEO Flight 3 will add the third satellite to the SBIRS surveillance satellite constellation.
The third satellite in the SBIRS surveillance satellite constellation is expected to join the first two spacecraft in orbit 22,000 miles above the earth. (Courtesy of Lockheed Martin)

In spite of several launch delays, the U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin are working to launch the third Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite from Cape Canaveral, Fla., with a fourth SBIRS satellite to be put in orbit later this year. The SBIRS satellites, which are designed to use infrared (IR) technology for advanced military surveillance functions, including missile warning and intelligence, can also be used for civilian and government applications, such as firefighting and public safety.

“At Lockheed Martin, we understand the Air Force’s important mission to protect our nation and allies around the world, as well as the critical role that SBIRS plays in their continued ability to respond to evolving threats,” said David Sheridan, vice president of the company’s Overhead Persistent Infrared Systems mission area. “With the launch of GEO Flight 3, we are proud to further enhance SBIRS infrared surveillance capabilities, and we look forward to working with our customer and industry teammates toward 100 percent mission success.”

As with the earlier SBIRS satellites, GEO Flight 3 will maintain a geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO) at approximately 22,000 miles altitude, where it will use powerful cameras and IR sensors to detect and track heat-generating objects, such as missiles. By eventually using a coordinated constellation of SBIRS satellites orbiting the earth, wide-area surveillance will be possible in addition to focusing on specific areas of interest.

About the Author

Jack Browne | Technical Contributor

Jack Browne, Technical Contributor, has worked in technical publishing for over 30 years. He managed the content and production of three technical journals while at the American Institute of Physics, including Medical Physics and the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology. He has been a Publisher and Editor for Penton Media, started the firm’s Wireless Symposium & Exhibition trade show in 1993, and currently serves as Technical Contributor for that company's Microwaves & RF magazine. Browne, who holds a BS in Mathematics from City College of New York and BA degrees in English and Philosophy from Fordham University, is a member of the IEEE.

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