June 9, 2019 – The Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit satellite (GEO-4) successfully achieved Air Force Space Command operational acceptance. The satellite is healthy and sending data to the Mission Control Station, operated by the 460th Space Wing located at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado.
SBIRS GEO-4, built by Lockheed Martin, launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 411 booster on January 20, 2017. Upon separation from the booster, satellite operations personnel began a series of planned Liquid Apogee Engine transfer orbit maneuvers to place the spacecraft safely into its final orbit. GEO-4 reached its intended orbit and began spacecraft checkout activities by deploying the satellite’s light shade, solar array wing assemblies, and antenna wing assemblies. With the spacecraft safely on orbit, sensor testing and checkout activities began, leading to a tuned and calibrated payload ready for warfighter use.
“Successful completion of operational testing and on-orbit performance resulted in Air Force Space Command operationally accepting the SBIRS GEO-4 satellite into the missile warning architecture to sustain war-winning capabilities for our nation,” said Col Ricky Hunt, senior materiel leader and OPIR Satellite Systems chief. “This milestone achievement is a true testament to the years of hard work put in by the combined SBIRS Government-Contractor team, past and present”.
SBIRS GEO-4, along with other on-orbit GEO satellites and Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO) sensors, provides worldwide infrared coverage as the Air Force replaces the legacy Defense Support Program missile warning and missile detection satellites that began operations over 45 years ago.
The Remote Sensing Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles AFB in Los Angeles, California manages the SBIRS program. Lockheed Martin Space, Sunnyvale, California, is the SBIRS prime contractor, and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, Azusa, California, is the payload integrator. The 460th Space Wing at Buckley AFB in Aurora, Colorado, operates the SBIRS constellation.
The SBIRS program delivers timely, reliable and accurate missile-warning and infrared surveillance information to the president of the United States, the secretary of defense, combatant commanders, the intelligence community and other key decision makers. The system’s enhanced global missile launch detection capability, supports the nation’s ballistic missile defense system, expands the country’s technical intelligence gathering capacity and bolsters situational awareness for warfighters on the battlefield.