Raytheon’s Space-Based Early Warning Sensor Design Passes Critical Milestone

Raytheon Intelligence & Space’s competitive sensor payload design passed its Preliminary Design Review for the U.S. Space Force’s Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next-Gen OPIR) Block 0 GEO (NGG) missile warning satellites being designed and built by spacecraft prime contractor Lockheed Martin Space.

“Detecting missile launches early starts in space,” said Wallis Laughrey, vice president of Space Systems for RI&S. “Each layer, or orbit, provides a necessary and unique view of the Earth to initially detect and then track a missile. Passing the Preliminary Design Review shows that our approach meets mission requirements, putting this ‘Go Fast’ program one step closer to launch.”

Following PDR, RI&S is focusing on manufacturing hardware and building and testing critical components to reduce risk ahead of the competitive program’s Critical Design Review in 2021. The team is building an engineering development unit that will go through a number of tests to ensure it functions as planned. Tests include environmental testing to simulate space’s harsh environment, such as the thermal vacuum chamber, which tests a system under extreme temperature conditions.

“What sets us apart is our deep technology bench,” said Laughrey. “Being able to pull or modify critical technology, like focal planes and electronics, from our other programs allows us to rapidly develop new designs for any orbit.”

Planned to succeed the Space Based Infrared System by providing improved, more resilient missile warning, Next Gen OPIR Block 0 was implemented by the U.S. Air Force as a “Go Fast” acquisition program. Prime contractor Lockheed Martin Space competitively selected Raytheon to design a potential payload for the program just 45 days after the program was initiated. The first geostationary orbiting satellite is targeted for delivery in just 60 months.



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