SBIRS GEO Flight-4 Successfully Launched

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  • SMC Public Affairs

The U.S. Air Force successfully launched the fourth Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellite on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V Evolved Expendable launch Vehicle from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida at 7:48 p.m. EST, Jan 19.

 “The successful launch of SBIRS GEO Flight-4 is the reward for years of hard work put in by our combined government and industry team,” said Col. Dennis Bythewood, director of the Remote Sensing Directorate. “Putting this fourth SBIRS GEO satellite on-orbit is the capstone event for the original SBIRS baseline constellation, and I’m proud of everyone involved.  Without their perseverance and dedication to the mission, this wouldn’t have been possible.”

The spacecraft separated from the upper stage approximately 43 minutes after launch. Following separation, the spacecraft began a series of orbital maneuvers to propel it to a geosynchronous earth orbit. Once in its final orbit, engineers will deploy the satellite's solar arrays and antennas. The engineers will then complete checkout and tests in preparation for operational use.

The capabilities GEO Flight-4 brings to the nation are ushering in a new era of overhead infrared surveillance. GEO Flight-4 will continue to provide global, persistent and taskable infrared surveillance enabling the nation and our allies to have increased global situational awareness for years to come.

“Today’s launch marks another win for the infrared sensing mission by providing numerous additional capabilities, such as faster and more accurate missile warning, to the warfighter” Col. Ricky Hunt, Overhead Persistent Infrared Satellite Systems division chief said.  “And in addition to the near-term improvements are the amazing capabilities the Air Force, Industry, and Academia are creating with the data in our Tools, Applications, and Processing (TAP) Laboratory, as well as the support provided to the OBAC (Overhead Persistent Infrared Battlespace Awareness Cell).  You can’t help but be impressed with what the team has done here.”

The SBIRS program is managed by the Remote Sensing Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Sunnyvale, California, is the SBIRS prime contractor, and Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, Azusa, California, is the payload developer. The 460th Space Wing at Buckley AFB, Aurora, Colorado, operates the SBIRS system. 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 enhances 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.