U.S. Space Force’s next missile warning satellite arrives at Florida launch base – Spaceflight Now

The SBIRS GEO 5 satellite tv for pc enters a thermal vacuum chamber final yr at Lockheed Martin’s manufacturing facility in Sunnyvale, California. Credit score: Lockheed Martin

A billion-dollar missile warning satellite tv for pc constructed by Lockheed Martin for the U.S. House Drive arrived at Cape Canaveral earlier this month to kick off last preparations for launch Could 17 a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.

The navy’s fifth House Based mostly Infrared System, or SBIRS, satellite tv for pc designed to function in geosynchronous orbit arrived on the Florida launch base March 18 on a U.S. Air Drive C-17 aircraft, officers introduced Wednesday.

The SBIRS GEO 5 spacecraft shipped to Florida from its Lockheed Martin manufacturing facility in Sunnyvale, California, the place groups accomplished building of the satellite tv for pc final October. SBIRS GEO 5 is follows 4 earlier SBIRS satellites launched into geosynchronous orbit since 2011 to exchange the navy’s ageing Protection Assist missile warning spacecraft, the final of which launched in 2007.

The brand new satellite tv for pc differs from the primary 4 SBIRS GEO satellites, introducing an upgraded spacecraft design Lockheed Martin calls the “fight bus.” Lockheed Martin constructed the fifth and sixth SBIRS GEO satellites utilizing its new LM 2100 platform, which the corporate says is the results of an “internally-funded, multi-year modernization initiative.”

In keeping with Lockheed Martin, the LM 2100 fight bus is designed to supply improved resiliency and hardening towards cyber threats, together with further spacecraft energy, and enhanced propulsion and electronics. The modular design incorporates widespread elements to streamline manufacturing, and might extra simply accommodate new forms of sensors to reply to innovation and new navy necessities.

The LM 2100 fight bus may even be utilized by the following era of missile warning satellites Lockheed Martin is constructing for the House Drive to exchange the SBIRS . The following era of GPS navigation satellite tv for pc, as a consequence of start launching in 2026, may even use the fight bus platform.

The ultimate SBIRS GEO satellite tv for pc, GEO 6, is scheduled of launch on an Atlas 5 rocket in 2022. The navy’s contracts with Lockheed Martin for the ultimate two SBIRS GEO satellites are valued at about $2.2 billion, in keeping with monetary knowledge printed by the Pentagon in earlier years.

Northrop Grumman builds the infrared sensors on the SBIRS satellites. The devices can detect and observe super-hot exhaust plumes from rocket motors, informing navy officers of international missile . The data gathered by the SBIRS fleet might assist protection items intercept an incoming missile earlier than it strikes its goal.

The SBIRS constellation features a minimal of 4 SBIRS craft stationed in geosynchronous orbit and not less than two infrared payloads in elliptical orbits aboard prime secret Nationwide Reconnaissance Workplace spy satellites, polar protection. The ultimate two SBIRS satellites set for launch this yr and subsequent yr will replenish the fleet.

Every infrared instrument package deal on the geosynchronous satellites consists of staring and scanning sensors designed to supply visibility over a complete hemisphere, whereas permitting floor operators to focus the craft’s gaze on hotspots like North .

The satellites in geosynchronous orbit fly greater than 22,000 miles (almost 36,000 kilometers) over the equator, and stay over the identical geographic location on Earth 24 hours a day.

With SBIRS GEO 5 now at Cape Canaveral, technicians will prepared the satellite tv for pc for launch. Main steps over the approaching weeks will probably be a post-shipment purposeful take a look at to confirm the satellite tv for pc is in good well being after the cross-country journey from California, adopted by loading of hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide propellants for in-space maneuvers.

Floor crews will then encapsulate the SBIRS GEO 5 spacecraft contained in the Atlas 5 rocket’s 13.1-foot-diameter (4-meter) payload fairing and transport the satellite tv for pc to United Launch Alliance’s Vertical Integration Facility for hoisting on prime of the launcher.

ULA will start stacking the Atlas 5 rocket on its cell launch platform contained in the VIF subsequent month.

The launch firm — a 50-50 three way partnership between Boeing and Lockheed Martin — can also be testing a pathfinder model of its next-generation Vulcan at Cape Canaveral amid a collection of Atlas 5 launches this yr.

An Atlas 5 rocket flying within the “421” configuration with two strong rocket boosters takes off on a mission in July 2016. Credit score: Alex Polimeni/Spaceflight Now

The Atlas 5 launcher that may ship the SBIRS GEO 5 spacecraft to orbit will fly within the “421” configuration with a 4-meter and two strap-on strong rocket boosters provided by Aerojet Rocketdyne. A single RL10 engine from Aerojet Rocketdyne will energy the Atlas 5’s Centaur higher .

The launch will mark the eighth flight of the Atlas 5-421 variant, and the 87th launch of an Atlas 5 rocket since its debut in 2002.

It will likely be the primary Atlas 5 flight since final November.

ULA plans as much as eight Atlas 5 missions this yr, together with the launch of SBIRS GEO 5 scheduled for Could 17. One other Atlas 5 rocket is scheduled to take off from Cape Canaveral in late June with a pair of spacecraft managed by the navy’s House Take a look at Program, which oversees among the Pentagon’s house missions.

Atlas 5 missions deliberate for launch from Cape Canaveral later this yr embrace unpiloted and piloted take a look at flights of Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule, which is designed to ferry astronauts to and from the Worldwide House Station. Two extra satellites will launch on an Atlas 5 later this yr for the House Drive’s Geosynchronous House Situational Consciousness Program, adopted by Atlas 5 launches with NASA’s Lucy asteroid mission and NOAA’s subsequent GOES climate satellite tv for pc in October and December.

The only real Atlas 5 launch this yr from Vandenberg Air Drive Base in California is scheduled for September. It would carry the Landsat 9 Earth commentary satellite tv for pc for NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey.

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Comply with Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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