Recent times have seen a surge in developments for missle-warning systems. For example, the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) teamwhich is led by the US Air Force and Lockheed Martinjust completed the Final Integrated System Test (FIST) of the first geosynchronous (GEO-1) satellite. This program milestone verifies the spacecraft's performance and functionality in preparation for delivery to the launch site. The goal of the SBIRS mission is to provide global, persistent, infrared surveillance capabilities to the US. The launch of GEO-1 is expected to significantly enhance the nation's early missile-warning capabilities while supporting other critical national-security missions, such as missile defense, technical intelligence, and battlespace awareness.

The SBIRS GEO-1 satellite conducted all system environmental testing previously. With the completion of FIST, it is on track to meet its scheduled spring launch aboard an Atlas V launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL. The SBIRS Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO) payloads have already been launched. They are meeting or exceeding all performance requirements.

On the path to spacecraft delivery, the SBIRS team will complete final space-to-ground interface system testing, perform final spacecraft component installations, and conduct a final factory confidence test (see photo). The qualification of the satellite's flight software, which is designed to provide highly reliable command and control operations, also is progressing steadily. The team recently completed all 138 engineering dry runs (EDRs)a key milestone in the flight software qualification regimen. In addition, it is expected to complete the spacecraft's comprehensive flightsoftware qualification testing program in the early part of this year.

The SBIRS team is led by the Infrared Space Systems Directorate at the US Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Lockheed Martin is the SBIRS prime contractor with Northrop Grumman as the payload integrator. Air Force Space Command operates the SBIRS system. Lockheed Martin's original SBIRS contract includes HEO payloads, two geosynchronous-orbit (GEO) satellites, and ground-based assets to receive and process the infrared data. The team also is under a follow-on production contract to deliver additional HEO payloads as well as third and fourth GEO satellites and associated ground modifications.