CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — The U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin are scheduled to launch the second Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO-2) spacecraft on Tuesday, March 19 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The launch window is 5:21 EDT to 6:01 p.m. EDT.
A live launch broadcast will begin at 5:01 p.m. EDT and will be accessible via the ULA webcast.
The most recent forecast issued by the 45th Weather Squadron predicts a 70% chance of overall permissible weather conditions for launch. Upper level dynamics are weak with a small threat of an isolated thunderstorm as a cold front boundary pushes into Central Florida through the count and window. The primary concerns for launch are cumulus clouds and thick clouds.
Featuring a mix of satellites in geosynchronous orbit, hosted payloads in highly elliptical earth (HEO) orbit, and ground hardware and software, the SBIRS program delivers resilient and improved missile warning capabilities for the nation while also providing significant contributions to the military’s missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness mission areas.
“We understand the important role SBIRS plays in our national security architecture and the entire SBIRS team has worked tirelessly to prepare this satellite for a successful launch,” said Jeff Smith, Lockheed Martin’s vice president of Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) mission area. “The dedication and talent of this SBIRS team is remarkable and we are keenly focused on delivering mission success for the warfigher.”
Lockheed Martin’s SBIRS contracts include four HEO payloads, four GEO satellites, and ground assets to receive, process, and disseminate the infrared mission data. The team has also begun procuring long lead parts for the fifth and sixth GEO satellites. HEO payloads and the first GEO satellite have already launched into orbit.
According to Lockheed Martin, GEO-1 is meeting or exceeding performance expectations on its path to operational certification. The satellite’s sensor pointing accuracy is nine times more precise than required and the sensors are detecting targets 25 percent dimmer than required with an intensity measurement 60 percent more accurate than specification.
The SBIRS team is led by the Infrared Space Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Lockheed Martin is the SBIRS prime contractor, Northrop Grumman is the payload integrator. Air Force Space Command operates the SBIRS system.