The US Space Force’s (USSF) Space Systems Command (SSC) has successfully launched the last Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit satellite (GEO-6).
The satellite lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS) in Florida, aboard United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V launch vehicle.
The SSC launched SBIRS GEO-6 in collaboration with its industry partners, including Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
Following the successful launch, GEO-6 started responding to the commands of the USSF as expected.
According to Lockheed Martin, the signal acquisition was confirmed three hours and 43 minutes after the satellite’s launch and GEO-6 is now orbiting under its own propulsion, after separating from the rocket.
The satellite will collect data with its onboard sensors, enabling the US military to support ballistic missile defence, provide domain awareness for warfighters, detect missile launches and expand technical intelligence gathering.
Lockheed Martin Space Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) Mission Area vice-president Michael Corriea said: “SBIRS GEO-6 fortifies current missile warning architecture, and it also signifies that we are on our way to achieving even greater technological capacity and expanded coverage with next-generation OPIR GEO System (NGG).”
This launch comes around two months after Lockheed Martin delivered the spacecraft to the USSF.
Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor, while Northrop Grumman designed and built the satellite’s mission payload and delivered propulsion, key composite structures and other critical components of the launch vehicle.
SSC Space Sensing programme executive officer colonel Brian Denaro said: “SBIRS GEO-6’s successful launch is a great achievement for the entire team and nation.
“The USSF’s SBIRS constellation provides the world’s most advanced capability to detect missile launches earlier and track these threats more accurately.”