Lockheed Martin[LMT] said on Dec. 2 that it completed its fifth space-based infrared system (SBIRS) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (SBIRS GEO-5) on Oct. 29 and that the satellite is ready for launch next year.
(Defense Daily, Nov. 10). A critical design review is scheduled for next September.
Tom McCormick, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for OPIR systems, said in a Dec. 2 statement that SBIRS’ infrared sensors provide “critical” information on global ballistic missile threats and that last year “SBIRS detected nearly one thousand missile launches, which is about a two-fold increase in two years.”
Northrop Grumman [NOC] is the payload integrator for the SBIRS satellites.
“Factory production and testing is complete and SBIRS GEO-5 is awaiting final preparations for shipment,” Cordell DeLaPena Jr., program executive officer for the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) Production Corps, wrote in an email from USSF Space Operations Command (SpOC) public affairs. “Once shipped to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station next year, SBIRS GEO-5 will undergo final launch processing to support a currently scheduled May 2021 launch.”
Col. Richard Bourquin, the commander of Space Delta 4, said in the SpOC email that SBIRS GEO-5 “will enhance Space Delta 4’s already robust ability to provide strategic and theater missile warning to the United States and our international partners.”
“Specifically, GEO-5’s improved system resilience and processing speed will enable our space operators to expedite the detection and reporting of current and future missile threats,” per the email. “The new satellite will also advance Space Delta 4’s other key mission areas by increasing our capability to gather valuable technical intelligence and provide timely situational awareness across the battlespace.”
SBIRS GEO-5 will be the first military satellite with the LM 2100 bus, which is to feature modern electronics, improved resiliency, and a reprogrammable onboard mission processor to permit satellite re-configuration on orbit in response to mission needs.
“We added even further enhanced resiliency features to the LM 2100 to create an initial ‘combat bus’ for the Space Force,” McCormick said. “SBIRS GEO-5 has proven itself a valuable incremental step toward achieving the resilient missile warning that will be provided by the Next-Gen OPIR Block 0 system.”
The LM 2100 bus is the baseline for SBIRS GEO-5, GEO-6, Next Gen OPIR Block 0 GEO satellites and the GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) birds, which are to launch starting in 2026.
While the pandemic has brought delays to many military programs, Lockheed Martin said in June that it expected SBIRS GEO-5 to launch next year, followed by SBIRS GEO-6 in 2022, and the first Next-Gen OPIR Block 0 in 2025.