The United States Space Force launched the fifth Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit missile warning satellite (SBIRS GEO-5) on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla. on May 18.
United Launch Alliance is a partnership between Boeing [BA] and Lockheed Martin [LMT].
The SBIRS GEO-5 is the first Lockheed Martin military satellite to carry the LM 2100 Combat Bus, which is to provide better resilience against jamming and improved cybersecurity, propulsion, and electronics. Northrop Grumman [NOC] is the payload developer for SBIRS.
“SBIRS GEO-5 separated from the [Atlas V] upper stage approximately 45 minutes after launch,” Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles AFB, Calif. said on May 18. “Following separation, the spacecraft began a series of orbital maneuvers to propel it to a geosynchronous earth orbit. Once on orbit, engineers will deploy the satellite’s solar arrays and antennas. The engineers will then complete checkout and tests in preparation for operational use.”
Tom McCormick, vice president of Lockheed Martin Space’s Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) mission area, said in a statement that SBIRS is “the tip of the missile defense spear” and that “the world is a more threatening place now with more than 1,000 ballistic missile launches occurring globally every year.”
The LM 2100 is the basis for a number of Lockheed Martin’s future military satellites, as the bus is to be on SBIRS GEO-6, the GPS III Follow On, and the first three Block 0 satellites of the successor program to SBIRS–Next-Gen OPIR.
SBIRS GEO-6 is to launch next year, while the first Block 0 Next-Gen OPIR satellite is to launch in fiscal 2025.
In January, Lockheed Martin received a contract modification worth up to $4.9 billion on the company’s existing contract for Next-Gen OPIR for work associated with the manufacturing, assembly, integration, test, and delivery of the first three Next-Gen OPIR satellites and delivery of ground mission unique software and ground sensor processing software (Defense Daily, Jan. 4).
Last November, the company said that it had completed a preliminary design review on the Next-Gen OPIR Block 0 satellites. A critical design review is scheduled for September.
Lockheed Martin won the non-competitive, sole-source contract worth $2.9 billion to develop the three Next-Gen OPIR geosynchronous satellites in August, 2018, while Northrop Grumman was selected to develop two Polar orbit satellites to complete the Block 0 architecture.