A Lockheed Martin-built satellite has been successfully deployed to low-Earth orbit, bolstering the US military’s missile defence capability.
The US Space Force is now receiving signals from the sixth and final Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (SBIRS GEO)-6 satellite, following a successful launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
The Lockheed Martin-built GEO-6 joins the US Space Force’s constellation of missile warning satellites, built with scanning and staring infrared surveillance sensors.
The onboard sensors are designed to collect data, which aims to allow the US military to detect missile launches, support ballistic missile defence, expand technical intelligence gathering and improve situational awareness on the battlefield.
The SBIRS GEO-6 satellite is reportedly responding to the US Space Force’s commands as planned, with signal acquisition confirmed three hours and 43 minutes after the satellite’s launch aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.
“The need for overhead persistent infrared systems has never been more critical," Michael Corriea, vice president of Lockheed Martin Space’s Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) Mission Area, said.
“At Lockheed Martin, we are making advancements to keep pace with evolving needs based on emerging threats in our military customers’ environment, helping pave the way for the future.”
The GEO-6 satellite is a forerunner to the Next Generation OPIR GEO System (NGG), which is expected to be based on Lockheed Martin’s modernised LM 2100 Combat Bus.
According to Lockheed Martin, the NGG is tipped to provide additional capabilities, including cyber hardening, resiliency features, enhanced spacecraft power, and improved propulsion and electronics.
“SBIRS GEO-6 fortifies the current missile warning architecture, and it also signifies that we are on our way to achieving even greater technological capacity and expanded coverage with NGG,” Corriea added.
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The SBIRS GEO-6 project was supported by Northrop Grumman, which helped design and build the mission payload.
Northrop Grumman also provided propulsion, key composite structures and other critical components on the Atlas V launch vehicle.
“Northrop Grumman’s payloads and components provide the military with critical missile warning capabilities for our warfighters and allies,” Aaron Dann, vice president, Strategic Force Programs, Northrop Grumman, said.
“The launch of SBIRS GEO-6 marks the end of a proud legacy on this program, one that involved Northrop Grumman from the very first mission in 2011, and demonstrates our continued leadership in support of missile tracking and defence architecture.”
News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media
Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres.