ULA’s Atlas V launches SBIRS GEO-5 satellite for US Space Force
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ULA’s Atlas V launches SBIRS GEO-5 satellite for US Space Force

19 May 2021 (Last Updated May 19th, 2021 12:14)

The USSF Space and Missile Systems Center’s SBIRS GEO-5 satellite has launched on ULA’s Atlas V rocket.

ULA’s Atlas V launches SBIRS GEO-5 satellite for US Space Force
A ULA Atlas V rocket carrying the SBIRS GEO Flight 5 mission lifts off from Space Launch Complex-41. Credit: United Launch Alliance.

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket has successfully launched the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) Flight 5 mission.

The US Space Force’s (USSF) Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 (SLC-41) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, US.

The Lockheed Martin-built SBIRS GEO-5 is now responding to the commands of the USSF Space Delta 4 operations team.

Signal acquisition of SBIRS GEO-5 was confirmed approximately 36 minutes after its launch on board the ULA Atlas V rocket.

The satellite is now separated from the rocket and is continuing to orbit under its own propulsion.

SBIRS GEO-5 is the first military space satellite built on an LM 2100 Combat Bus. It is a version of Lockheed Martin’s modernised, modular LM 2100 space vehicle.

Lockheed Martin Space OPIR Mission Area vice-president Tom McCormick said: “The world is a more threatening place now with more than 1,000 ballistic missile launches occurring globally every year.

“SBIRS is the tip of the missile defence spear, seeing all those missiles and providing our military the ability to ensure our national security and the safety of our armed forces.”

The latest mission included a 13.7ft Extra Extended Payload Fairing (XEPF).

It was the 87th launch of the Atlas V rocket, the 72nd launch from SLC-41 and the 8th in the 421 configuration. It is also ULA’s 144th mission.

The first four SBIRS GEO satellites were launched by Atlas V between 2011 and 2018.

ULA Government and Commercial Programs vice-president Gary Wentz said: “Thank you to our mission partners for the tremendous teamwork as we processed and launched this asset that provides powerful surveillance and critical capabilities to protect our warfighters.

“We are proud to work with the US Space Force to continue to meet the national security needs of our country.”