SBIRS GEO satellite

Lockheed Martin has been awarded a contract for the purchase of long-lead parts in preparation for full production of the US Air Force’s (USAF) fifth and sixth geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO) space-based infrared system (SBIRS) satellites.

The $284.4m fixed-price order follows an $82m contract previously secured by the company to complete non-recurring engineering activities for GEO-5 and 6 satellites, along with the purchase of select long-lead parts in October 2012.

Representing the second phase in the acquisition of GEO-5 and 6, the latest contract will fund the procurement of remaining long-lead spacecraft components.

Lockheed Martin Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) mission area vice president Jeff Smith said the contract reaffirms the government’s confidence in the company’s ability to efficiently manufacture these important satellites.

"As we produce follow on SBIRS assets, we aim to continually reduce the cost and cycle time of each space vehicle to ensure we deliver critical and resilient infrared surveillance capabilities to the nation at the best value to the government," Smith added.

Designed to deliver timely and accurate warnings for missile launches to the US Government, the SBIRS satellites are a combination of four geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO) satellites, two highly elliptical earth (HEO) payloads, as well as related ground hardware and software.

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"The $284.4m fixed-price order follows an $82m contract previously secured by the company."

With production contracts for four HEO payloads and four GEO satellites, Lockheed has to date delivered two of each (GEO satellites and HEO payloads) to the air force, whereas the GEO-3 and GEO-4 are currently in various stages of production.

The SBIRS GEO-1 spacecraft was launched on 7 May 2011, while the GEO-2 is scheduled for launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US, this month.

A final full production contract for the GEO-5 and 6 satellites is scheduled to be awarded at a later date.

Image: Artist’s impression of the US Air Force’s GEO SBIRS satellites in orbit. Photo courtesy of © 2013 Lockheed Martin Corporation.

Defence Technology