The U.S has been strengthening its missile detection systems for many years. The threat increases as more and more countries improve their own ballistic missile technologies around the world. They have already 3 such satellites orbiting the Earth and now they have just launched the fourth one.
The satellite took to space via a United Launch Alliance Altas 5 rocket that blasted off from Cape Canaveral this Tuesday. The launch was conducted by the U.S Space Force. The satellite is a part of the Space-Based Infrared System or SBIRS spacecraft that orbit 22,300 miles above the equator. The satellite uses telescopes and state-of-the-art infrared sensors to provide an early warning of any unusual heat signatures approaching the country.
The satellite will be operational after many tests and checkouts, further boosting the US’s missile detection system. This just shows how beneficial the Space Force is to the US’ defense. It is playing an increasingly prominent role within the American military complex, despite being the youngest service branch of the US Armed Forces. The fourth satellite is an upgraded version of the previous SBIRS spacecrafts.
According to Tom McCormick, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Overhead Persistent Infrared Missions division, “The need for SBIRS systems has never been more critical. The threat of ballistic missile technology is spreading around the world, adversaries who we once held at geographic arm’s length now tout their development of this technology”.
He further explained that “For early missile warning, SBIRS infrared detection capabilities serve as a tip of the spear, or bell ringer, that a launch has occurred and something is coming. SBIRS data informs many of our country’s other defensive systems, which together form a protective missile kill chain to defend our nation and our armed forces”.
All the SBIR satellites are currently in geo-synchronous orbit meaning they stay at the same spot, over the same region. The SBIRS GEO-5 satellite is the first military spacecraft built around Lockheed Martin’s modernized LM 2100 chassis. The chassis is an in-house project that can provide “greater resiliency and cyber hardening, enhanced spacecraft power, propulsion and electronics” according to McCormick.
McCormick emphasized the need for such systems by saying that “The world is a more threatening place now with more than 1,000 ballistic missile launches occurring globally every year”.
The SBIRS will act as an early warning so that authorities will be able to aptly handle the situation if a ballistic missile is fired towards US soil. The missile warning system would be able to provide true data in such a situation to allow the army to know what actually happened and act accordingly.