Lockheed Martin [LMT] yesterday announced it has achieved a major integrated test milestone on the first Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) geosynchronous orbit (GEO-1) spacecraft allowing the start of environmental testing in preparation for launch in late 2009.

The GEO-1 satellite, expected to provide new missile detection and surveillance capabilities for the nation, has completed a comprehensive Baseline Integrated System Test (BIST) phase that began in early March. BIST characterized the overall performance of the GEO-1 satellite and established a performance baseline for entering environmental testing.

“I am proud of our entire team for completing this significant milestone ahead of the planned schedule,” Col. Roger Teague, Air Force SBIRS Wing Commander, said in a statement. “We continue to build confidence as we march towards the inaugural launch of this vitally important spacecraft.”

Now that BIST is completed, the team will integrate the satellite’s solar arrays, deployable light shade, and thermal blankets and then prepare for acoustic and pyroshock testing where the integrated space vehicle will be subjected to the maximum sound and vibration levels expected during launch into orbit.

“This comprehensive test confirms our readiness to enter the critical environmental test stage,” Jeff Smith, Lockheed Martin’s SBIRS vice president and program manager, said.

The SBIRS team is led by the Space Based Infrared Systems Wing at the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles AFB, Calif. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., is the SBIRS prime contractor, with Northrop Grumman [NOC] Electronic Systems, Azusa, Calif., as the payload integrator. Air Force Space Command operates the SBIRS system.

Lockheed Martin’s current contract includes two highly elliptical orbit (HEO) payloads and two GEO satellites, as well as ground-based assets to receive and process the infrared data. The Lockheed Martin team has delivered both HEO payloads and the first GEO satellite launch is scheduled for late 2009. The first HEO payload has completed initial on-orbit deployment and checkout and demonstrated that its performance meets or exceeds specifications. The program is in the early stages of adding additional GEO spacecraft and HEO payloads to the planned constellation.