Northrop Grumman has secured a contract to supply a space inertial reference system for the US Air Force’s (USAF) sixth Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO-6) satellite.
The contract was awarded by SBIRS prime contractor Lockheed Martin. It will see the delivery of Northrop’s Scalable Space Inertial Reference Unit (Scalable SIRU) for sensor pointing / stabilisation and attitude control on the SBIRS GEO-6 space vehicle.
Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems Navigation and Positioning Systems vice-president Bob Mehltretter said: "This award reflects our continuing dedication to providing products that uphold the highest reliability and performance standards."
Lockheed Martin vice-president and SBIRS programme director David Sheridan said: "Northrop Grumman has been steadfast in providing Lockheed Martin with crucial components on SBIRS.
"Our team is assuring that SBIRS production will continue to yield vital capabilities for the air force’s early warning missions."
Scalable SIRU consists of an outer shell, a high-Q vibrating hemispherical resonator and an inner shell. It is designed for sensor pointing / stabilisation and spacecraft attitude control on demanding long-term space missions.
The system is considered to be the industry standard for high-precision, long-life attitude control solutions supporting commercial, government and civil space missions. It features the company’s patented hemispherical resonator gyro, which is claimed to have been used in space without a mission failure for more than 30 million operating hours.
The system 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 already supplied Scalable SIRU for previous SBIRS GEO satellites, including GEO-5 as part of a contract awarded in December 2014.
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.
Image: Scalable SIRU is designed for sensor pointing /stabilisation and spacecraft attitude control on demanding long-term space missions. Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman Corp.