ULA Sends Sixth Space Force Missile Warning Satellite to Orbit
United Launch Alliance has delivered the Space-Based Infrared System GEO-6 missile warning system for the U.S. Space Force.
SBIRS GEO-6 is the last of the Space Force’s constellation of geosynchronous satellites that detect ballistic missile launches from anywhere on the planet. The constellation is located in a customized transfer orbit approximately 22,000 miles above the equator.
The SBIRS GEO-6 mission lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, SpaceNews reported Thursday.
ULA sent the spacecraft to its orbit using an Atlas 5 main stage rocket with a Vulcan Centaur upper stage vehicle. Atlas 5 is powered by an RD-180 engine and two solid rocket boosters while Centaur is equipped with an Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1-1 engine.
The upper stage separated from Atlas 5 five minutes after liftoff and executed planned engine fires to reach its destination. ULA said the payload was separated and released into the intended transfer orbit three hours after launch.
The Space Force’s SBIRS constellation comprises six satellites equipped with scanning and staring infrared sensors. The U.S. Air Force originally intended to have eight satellites but decided in 2018 to cancel the procurement of the seventh and eighth satellites due to resilience concerns.
ULA launched all SBIRS missions. SBIRS GEO-6 marks the 95th mission for Atlas 5.
The missile tracking satellites were developed by Lockheed Martin while the sensor payload is from Northrop Grumman. Lockheed received a contract from the Air Force to develop the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared missile tracking satellites.
Tags: Atlas 5 SBIRS GEO-6 space Space-Based Infrared System SpaceNews United Launch Alliance US Space Force Vulcan Centaur