A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 411 rocket will launch the U.S. Air Force’s fourth Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (SBIRS GEO Flight 4) satellite from the Space Launch Complex 41 of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida, USA on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018.
According to a statement from ULA, the 40-minute launch window opens at 7:52 p.m. EST. SBIRS GEO Flight 4 mission will mark ULA’s 125th mission overall since the company was founded in 2006. It’s also the 75th Atlas V launch since the rocket’s inaugural flight in 2002.
SBIRS, considered one of the nation’s highest priority space programs, is designed to provide global, persistent, infrared surveillance capabilities to meet 21st-century demands in four national security mission areas: missile warning, missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness.
The SBIRS team is led by the Remote Sensing Systems Directorate (RS) at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (USAF SMC). The U.S Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) operates the SBIRS system.
Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor, with Northrop Grumman as the payload integrator. Lockheed Martin manufactured the SBIRS GEO Flight-4 satellite at its Sunnyvale, California, facility. The satellite was delivered to Florida on Oct. 31, 2017.
ULA also launched the first three SBIRS GEO missions. The planned launch of SBIRS GEO Flight-4 comes just 12 months after the launch of SBIRS GEO Flight-3, which in March 2017 sent its first images back down to Earth in a milestone known as “first light.” These two satellites join SBIRS’ GEO-1 and GEO-2, which received Air Force Space Command Operational Acceptance in 2013, and have performance that matches, and in some cases exceeds, requirements.
The next SBIRS satellites, GEO-5 and GEO-6, will bring increased resiliency, production efficiency and the ability to add new advanced sensor suites to the constellation using Lockheed Martin’s modernized LM 2100 satellite bus.
ULA/ Lockheed Martin