Sbirs Gets Second Set Of Eyes In Orbit

Aviation Week
By Amy Butler
April 23, 2013

The second Space-Based Infrared System (Sbirs) satellite has achieved “first light,” and officials expect that it will be certified to warn commanders of ballistic missiles by year’s end, says Jeff Smith, vice president for the program for prime contractor Lockheed Martin. First light means the covers for the sensitive infrared payloads — a scanner and a starer — were removed. The system is now being calibrated.

The Sbirs satellite, the second to be placed in geosynchronous (GEO) orbit, was launched March 19 on an Atlas V from Cape Canaveral.

GEO-1 was launched in May 2011. Its scanner has yet to be certified to deliver Integrated Tactical Warning/Attack Assessment (ITWAA) messages. These messages are used to tip off U.S. missile defenses about incoming targets. The Air Force has prioritized use of the scanning sensor first, leaving the newer staring sensor for certification later.

As a replacement for the Defense Support System (DSP), Sbirs will be responsible for providing information on targets — such as launch point, vector and impact point.

Its data will be fed into the Missile Defense Agency’s Command, Control Battle Management and Communications System, which links to sea- and ground-based interceptors in the field. …

Read on: