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USAF baseline SBIRS constellation complete

4th May 2018 - 11:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The US Air Force's (USAF's) fourth Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellite has transmitted its first images back to Earth, Lockheed Martin announced on 2 May.

The milestone, known as first light, took place in February when the Lockheed Martin-built SBIRS GEO Flight-4 satellite turned on its sensors for the first time during space vehicle checkout.

SBIRS GEO Flight-4, equipped with powerful scanning and staring infrared surveillance sensors, collects data for use by the US military to detect missile launches, support ballistic missile defence, expand technical intelligence gathering and support situational awareness on the battlefield.

The satellite was launched on 19 January. Using its liquid apogee engine, the satellite successfully propelled itself to a GEO altitude of about 22,000 miles. There, it deployed its solar arrays and antennas, and began initial check out.

SBIRS GEO Flight-4 completes the baseline SBIRS constellation. It joins SBIRS GEO Flights-1, 2 and 3, which were launched in 2011, 2013 and 2017 respectively.

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