Wednesday, March 09, 2011

First geosynchronous satellite arrives in Florida for May launch

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- Officials with the Air Force's Space Based Infrared Systems program completed a program milestone recently, successfully delivering the first geosynchronous satellite, known as GEO-1, to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

The delivery of GEO-1 sets the path for final checkout of the space vehicle before launch.

The satellite will be processed in the Defense Satellite Communications System Processing Facility. Work began March 4, when the satellite was hoisted from the shipping container and positioned into the high bay.

Final launch preparation activities include a launch-base confidence test to verify satellite integrity after shipment, an intersegment test to verify communication compatibility from the satellite to the on-orbit operations center and final battery reconditioning for launch. Following these activities, the satellite will be fueled and prepared for integrated processing with the Atlas V booster.

"The SBIRS team has met or exceeded all significant program objectives leading to this important milestone, and there is great enthusiasm and excitement across our entire workforce," said Col. Roger Teague, the director of the Infrared Space Systems Directorate's Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base. "We are positioned well to successfully launch the first SBIRS satellite."

The GEO-1 satellite is scheduled for launch from Cape Canaveral AFS in early May.

The satellite was transported from the Lockheed Martin satellite integration facility in Sunnyvale, Calif., via a C-5 Galaxy.

The C-5 crew from the 22nd Airlift Squadron at Travis AFB, Calif., ensured GEO-1 was transported safely and according to the time-sensitive schedule. Security support was provided by the California Air National Guard's 129th Rescue Wing.

"Safe transport of the SBIRS satellite was paramount and the total force government and contractor team worked tirelessly to ensure mission success," Colonel Teague said.

The SBIRS program is designed to replace the Defense Support Program satellite constellation. The program is designed to provide significantly enhanced capabilities to support missile warning, missile defense, battlespace awareness and technical intelligence missions.

Engineers expect the state-of-the-art SBIRS sensors to provide enhanced operational capability for the warfighter and technical community.