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On-Orbit Checkout of SBIRS Payload Confirmed

SBIRS High features a mix of four geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO) satellites, two highly elliptical earth orbit (HEO) payloads, and associated ground hardware and software.  SBIRS High will have both improved sensor flexibility and sensitivity.  Sensors will cover short-wave infrared like its predecessor, expanded mid-wave infrared and see-to-the-ground bands allowing it to perform a broader set of missions as compared to DSP.  Currently in the engineering, manufacturing, and development phase, the first SBIRS High HEO payload is scheduled for delivery in 2003 and the first GEO satellite is expected to launch in 2006

SBIRS High features a mix of four geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO) satellites, two highly elliptical earth orbit (HEO) payloads, and associated ground hardware and software. SBIRS High will have both improved sensor flexibility and sensitivity. Sensors will cover short-wave infrared like its predecessor, expanded mid-wave infrared and see-to-the-ground bands allowing it to perform a broader set of missions as compared to DSP. Currently in the engineering, manufacturing, and development phase, the first SBIRS High HEO payload is scheduled for delivery in 2003 and the first GEO satellite is expected to launch in 2006

Los Angeles, Calif. -- The U.S. Air Force successfully completed initial early on-orbit checkout of the first Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) payload. SBIRS will deliver a new generation of space-based satellites providing missile warning, missile defense, technical intelligence, and battlespace awareness to combatant commanders.

The SBIRS Wing at the Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles AFB, Calif., is developing and acquiring the system, and the 460th Space Wing, headquartered at Buckley AFB, Colo., will operate SBIRS.

General Kevin Chilton, Commander, Air Force Space Command, said, "SBIRS presents a new era of global surveillance with the ability to detect and report events that were previously beyond our capabilities, providing greatly improved support possible to our combatant commanders."

The initial ground phase of SBIRS, called Increment 1, became operational in 2001, using a new consolidated ground architecture that processes data from current on-orbit Defense Support Program satellites. The payload, operating in a highly elliptical orbit (HEO), is the first component of the Increment 2 constellation, ultimately including two HEO payloads and multiple satellites in geosynchronous earth orbit.

The SBIRS team, composed of personnel from the Air Force as well as Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor, and Northrop Grumman, the payload developer, confirmed the deployment, checkout, and testing of the HEO payload, focusing on calibration of the infrared sensors as well as line-of-sight testing. Performance is meeting or exceeding all specified mission requirements. The payload will be fully operationally certified by summer of 2008.

"Launch and checkout of the first SBIRS HEO system is a critical step in demonstrating this important new operational capability," Lt. Gen. Michael Hamel, Space and Missile Systems Center commander, said. "SBIRS will deliver revolutionary new ways to address some of the most serious threats the nation faces."

For more information, please contact Ms. Candrea Thomas, SMC Public Affairs at (310) 653-2368.