Lockheed has begun the baseline integrated system test (BIST) on the second space-based infrared system (SBIRS) geosynchronous orbit (GEO-2) spacecraft.

The SBIRS is designed to provide early warning of missile launches, and simultaneously support other missions including missile defence, technical intelligence and battlespace characterisation.

The BIST will demonstrate the integrated satellite’s readiness to enter the critical environmental test phase in preparation for launch.

The first phase calls for a thorough checkout of the completed GEO-2 spacecraft bus along with the Northrop-built infrared payload.

Following the BIST phase, the equipment panels and communications antennas will be installed in the flight configuration for environmental testing, where the integrated spacecraft will be subjected to acoustic and thermal vacuum levels expected during launch and on-orbit operations.

Currently, the first SBIRS spacecraft (GEO-1) is undergoing thermal vacuum testing, where it has already completed the first of several hot and cold temperature cycles as part of a comprehensive test-like-you-fly process.

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The environmental testing will be followed by the final checkout and delivery to the launch site in late 2010.