CAPE CANAVERAL: At 7:42 PM (EST) on Friday January 20, 2017, a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket lifted the Lockheed-Martin Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit 3 (SBIRS GEO-3) into orbit. This is the first of 11 planned launches for ULA in 2017. The launch had been scrubbed on the prior night when the Eastern Range detected an aircraft that would have been in the box at lift-off.
Photo credit; Mary Ellen Jelen
SBIRS uses infrared surveillance to provide early missile warning for the U.S. military. The system provides data for Missile Defense, Missile Warning, Battlespace Awareness, and Technical Intelligence. The data is analyzed at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado by the 460th Space Wing. SBIRS provides reliable, unambiguous, timely and accurate warning of missile launches.
Launch of SBIRS GEO-3. Photo Credit: Bill Jelen & Michael Seeley
Each satellite in the GEO constellation has a design life of 12 years. It is a 10,000-pound satellite powered by 2,800 watt-capable solar arrays. The system can detect short-wave, mid-wave and see-to-ground sensors. The satellite has a pointing accuracy of 0.05 degrees. It will provide information on the launch point, trajectory and projected impact points for an enemy launch.