The U.S. Dept. of Defense placed a $424.7-million contract with Lockheed Martin Corp. on behalf of the U.S. Air Force, for production of a GEO Satellite 4. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., is continuing development of a geosynchronous satellite as part of the Air Force's Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS), which is due to launch in the spring of 2011.
SBIRS is a system for infrared space surveillance, meant to collect and deliver information to U.S. Defense Dept. efforts, specifically missile warning, missile defense, and battlespace analysis.
SBIRS is described an integrated "system of systems," to include five satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GEO), sensors hosted on other satellites in highly elliptical orbit (HEO), and ground data processing and control. It involves a ground-based software network the links U.S. Air Force infrared sensors with new IR sensors.
Last month, the U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin completed the final test of SBIRS’ first geosynchronous satellite, GEO-1, and it was characterized by Lockheed as a milestone that verified the spacecraft's performance and functionality,” and a sign that the overall program will meet its 2011 launch date.