The Air Force and Lockheed Martin [LMT] shipped the third Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) missile-warning satellite to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., last week for its fall launch.
The SBIRS Geosynchronous Earth Orbit Flight 3 (GEO-3) satellite flew from Sunnyvale, Calif., where it was built, to Florida aboard an Air Force C-5 Galaxy transport plane. It is scheduled to lift off aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 rocket in October.
The SBIRS constellation, designed to replace aging Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites, will consist of GEO satellites and sensors on host satellites in highly elliptical orbit (HEO). HEO-1 and HEO-2 achieved orbit in 2006 and 2008.
GEO-1 and GEO-2 were launched in 2011 and 2013, respectively. GEO-4 is in storage and will undergo final assembly before being launched in 2017. GEO-5 and GEO-6, which will replace the first two satellites, are in production and are to be available for launch in 2020 and 2021. GEO-5 and GEO-6 will have a newer bus design.