LIVE BROADCAST OF THE ROCKET IN SPACE
ABOUT THE MISSION ?
The US Air Force’s third Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) geosynchronous missile detection satellite will ride to orbit atop United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket no earlier than Friday, lifting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, following a scrub of Thursday’s opening attempt.
This Air Force’s third Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) geosynchronous missile detection satellite is designed to detect enemy missiles. The satellites can also perform additional infrared surveillance duties. SBIRS is a successor to the earlier Defence Support Program (DSP), whose twenty-three satellites were launched between 1990 and 2007.
The launch was scheduled for Thursday night (Jan. 19) but was rescheduled to Friday due to a sensor issue and the intrusion of an aircraft into restricted airspace.
The aerospace company Lockheed Martin built the satellite, known as SBIRS Geo-3, for the U.S. Air Force. As the name suggests, two other SBIRS spacecraft are already aloft; SBIRS Geo-1 and SBIRS Geo-2 launched in 2011 and 2013, respectively.
SBIRS uses a combination of dedicated satellites in geosynchronous orbit and instrument packages hosted aboard other satellites in highly elliptical Molniya orbits. The payload of this launch, SBIRS-GEO-3, is the third dedicated satellite to launch.
Three hosted, or SBIRS-HEO, payloads are also currently in orbit aboard National Reconnaissance Office signals intelligence spacecraft. A low Earth orbit component to the program was originally planned. However, this was cancelled and later evolved into the Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS).
The early detection of incoming missiles gives the US military time to react to the threat of a potential nuclear attack, getting key personnel to safety and launching a counterattack. SBIRS also allows missile defence systems to be targeted to intercept the attack.
The SBIRS spacecraft are also tasked with missions described as Technical Intelligence and Battlespace Awareness, using their sensors to identify and analyse the signatures of events producing infrared radiation and to collect data on the conditions of battlefields to aid strategic planning.
SBIRS Geo-3 was originally supposed to launch in October 2016, but the liftoff was delayed while Lockheed investigated an issue with an engine component. This issue arose on an unrelated satellite that features the same component, not SBIRS Geo-3 itself, Lockheed representatives have said; the latter satellite has been given a clean bill of health.
Then the whole world should expect a new era of technology warfare.