Lockheed Martin has awarded a contract to Northrop Grumman to supply a space inertial reference system for the US Air Force’s (USAF) fifth space-based infrared system geosynchronous earth orbit (SBIRS GEO-5) satellite.
Northrop will deliver its scalable space inertial reference unit (Scalable SIRU) for sensor pointing / stabilisation and attitude control on the SBIRS GEO-5 system.
Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems Navigation and Positioning Systems vice-president Bob Mehltretter said: "This award extends our support of the SBIRS programme and reaffirms our status as the provider of choice for complex technical missions.
"We are committed to providing products that meet the highest performance and reliability standards for current and next-generation SBIRS satellites."
Consisting of an outer shell, a high-Q vibrating hemispherical resonator and an inner shell, Scalable SIRU is designed for sensor pointing / stabilisation and spacecraft attitude control on demanding long-term space missions.
The system is claimed to be the industry standard for high-precision, long-life attitude control solutions supporting commercial, government and civil space missions.
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Scalable SIRU has already proven its performance during numerous space missions, including Nasa’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission to orbit, and Mercury and the Global Precipitation Measurement mission.
Northrop has previously supplied its Scalable SIRU systems for earlier SBIRS geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) satellites.
The SBIRS satellites are designed to deliver timely and accurate warning of missile launches to the US President, defence secretary, combatant commanders and other key decision makers, using a mix of GEO satellites, highly elliptical orbit payloads, and related ground hardware and software.
The USAF initially contracted Lockheed for production of four highly elliptical orbit (HEO) payloads and four GEO satellites, and followed it up with a $1.9bn award for production of GEO-5 and GEO-6 satellites in June this year.
Both the first and second SBIRS GEO spacecraft were launched in May 2011, and March 2013 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US.
Image: Scalable SIRU is used for sensor pointing / stabilisation and spacecraft attitude control on demanding long-term space missions. Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman Corp.