Infrared Satellites

The IS program is the follow-on capability to the highly successful Defense Support Program. DSP has provided early warning for Intercontinental Ballistic Missile launches for more than 30 years. The goal is to provide a seamless transition from DSP to IS and meet the jointly defined requirements of the defense and intelligence communities.

Currently the IS program consists of multiple Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites, Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO) payloads riding on host satellites, and associated world-wide deployed ground systems.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company is the prime contractor responsible for program management, systems engineering, and spacecraft development. LM Integrated Systems and Solutions is the ground systems developer and supports systems engineering. Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems is the payload subcontractor and supports systems engineering and ground mission processing development.

SBIRS Capabilities

The IS sensors are designed to provide greater flexibility and sensitivity than DSP and detect short-wave and expanded mid-wave infrared signals allowing the system to perform a broader set of missions. These enhanced capabilities result in improved prediction accuracy for global strategic and tactical warfighters.

The GEO spacecraft is a 3 axis stabilized platform with a scanning sensor and a staring sensor. Sensor pointing is accomplished with pointing mirrors within the telescopes. The GEO scanning sensor provides a shorter revisit time than DSP over its full field of view, while the staring sensor will be used for step-stare or dedicated stare operations over smaller areas. The first GEO satellite launched in 2011 and is expected to receive certification by end of year 2012. The second GEO has passed all major testing and is prepared to launch in 2013.

The HEO sensor is a scanning sensor similar to the GEO scanner with sensor pointing performed by slewing the full telescope on a gimbal. The IS GEO and HEO sensor gather raw unprocessed data is is down-linked to the ground, so that the same radiometric scene observed in space is be available on the ground. The first HEO payload was delivered in August 2004 for integration and the second HEO payload was delivered in September 2005. The sensor sensitivity exceeded the specification for both payloads.

SBIRS GEO Satellite Features

- A2100 derived spacecraft, 12-year design life, 9.8 year MMD
- ~10,000-lb predicted wet weight at launch
- EELV launch capable
- 3-axis stabilized with 0.05 deg pointing accuracy; solar flyer attitude control
- RS32 rad-hardened single board computers with reloadable flight software
- ~2800 watts generated by GaAs solar arrays
- GPS receiver with Selected Availability Secure Anti-Spoof Module (SAASM)
- Deployable Light Shade
- ~1000-lb infrared payload: scanning and staring sensors
- 3 IR bands: short-wave, mid-wave, and see-to-ground sensor chip assemblies
- Short Schmidt telescopes with dual optical pointing
- Agile precision pointing and control
- Passive thermal cooling
- Secure communications links for normal, survivable, and endurable operations

Ground System Features

- Manages IS constellation of two HEO payloads, two GEO satellites, and legacy DSP satellites.
- Key functions: Mission planning/payload tasking, Constellation management/TT&C, Mission Processing, Event Reporting and data distribution
- Ground Control: Provides normal, survivable, and endurable operating modes, primary and backup mission control stations and relay ground stations in CONUS and overseas
- The Mobile Ground System currently provides survivable and endurable mission support (operated by the 137th Air National Guard unit).
- Distributed high availability server architecture
- Air Force Space Command 2nd Space Warning Squadron operates all fixed sites.