Built in a record time and at no additional cost to the government for the upgrade, SBIRS GEO-5 is the first military space satellite built on the company’s modernised, modular LM 2100 combat bus, SBIRS GEO-6, launching in 2022, is also being built on the new bus designed for speed and resilience.
Tom McCormick, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) Systems, said, "SBIRS’ role as an ever-present, on-orbit guardian against global ballistic missile threats has never been more critical. In 2019 alone, SBIRS detected nearly 1,000 missile launches, which is about a two-fold increase in two years."
Both SBIRS GEO-5 and GEO-6 are slated to join the US Space Force’s constellation of missile warning satellites, equipped with powerful scanning and staring infrared surveillance sensors, these sensors collect data that allow the US military to detect missile launches, support ballistic missile defence, expand technical intelligence gathering and bolster situational awareness on the battlefield.
Captain Alex Cook, Space and Missile Systems Centre’s SBIRS GEO-5/6 assembly, test, and launch operations lead, added, "Completing the production of a complex missile-warning satellite during the challenging COVID environment is a huge accomplishment and is a testament to Lockheed Martin’s professionalism and dedication to the security of our nation."
SBIRS GEO-5 was officially completed on 29 October 2020.
The LM 2100 bus is the result of a Lockheed Martin internally-funded, multi-year modernisation initiative. It is designed to provide greater resiliency and cyber-hardening; enhanced spacecraft power, propulsion and electronics; common components and procedures to streamline manufacturing; and a flexible design that reduces the cost to incorporate future, modernised sensor suites.
McCormick added, "We added even further enhanced resiliency features to the LM 2100 to create an initial ‘combat bus’ for the Space Force. SBIRS GEO-5 has proven itself a valuable incremental step towards achieving the resilient missile warning that will be provided by the Next Gen OPIR Block 0 System, the follow-on to SBIRS."
In June 2015, the Air Force agreed to re-baseline SBIRS GEO-5 and GEO-6 to upgrade both satellites to Lockheed Martin’s modernised LM 2100 bus at no additional cost.
From that point, SBIRS GEO-5 was completed in approximately five years, in line with the government’s need to increase production speed and address emerging threats, and still supporting the government’s original 2021 launch date.
Besides SBIRS GEO-5 and GEO-6, the LM 2100 space vehicle is the baseline for three Next Gen OPIR Block 0 GEO satellites expecting to launch starting in 2025; and the future GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) satellites, which are expected to launch starting in 2026.
Lockheed Martin said it is proud to be part of the SBIRS team led by the Production Corps, Geosynchronous Earth Orbit Division, at the US Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Centre, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California. Lockheed Martin Space, Sunnyvale, California, is the SBIRS prime contractor, with Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, Azusa, California, as the payload integrator.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 110,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.
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