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US Military Infrared Missile Detection Satellite Launched Today

First Posted: Mar 20, 2013 10:06 AM EDT
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An Atlas V launch vehicle rose from the pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., today to deliver the second Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous satellite (SBIRS GEO 2) into orbit. The United Launch Alliance Atlas V is powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 booster engine and a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RL10A-4-2 upper-stage engine.

The SBIRS program features a mix of satellites in geosynchronous orbit that are designed to provide resilient and improved missile-warning capabilities for the nation and allied countries. The satellites also contribute toward missile defense and technical intelligence for the U.S. military.

Besides the geosynchronous satellites, the SBIRS architecture also includes hosted payloads in highly elliptical earth (HEO) orbit, and ground hardware and software. The first two GEO satellites and HEO payloads are now launched.

SBIRS GEO-2 includes highly sophisticated scanning and staring sensors that will deliver improved infrared sensitivity and a reduction in area revisit times over the current constellation. The scanning sensor will provide a wide area surveillance of missile launches and natural phenomena across the earth, while the staring sensor will be used to observe smaller areas of interest with superior sensitivity.

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