USAF: SBIRS GEO Flight-4 missile-warning satellite sends first pictures back to Earth
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colorado. The U.S. Air Force (USAF) reports that its fourth Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite has transmitted its first images back to Earth.
The imaging milestone, known as “first light,” occurred in February when the SBIRS GEO Flight-4 satellite turned on its powerful sensors for the first time during space vehicle checkout. The SBIRS GEO Flight-4 -- built by Lockheed Martin -- is the latest to join the Air Force’s orbiting constellation of missile-warning satellites. The SBIRS GEO Flight-4 uses powerful scanning and staring infrared surveillance sensors to collect data that the U.S. military uses to detect missile launches, support ballistic missile defense, expand technical intelligence-gathering, and bolster situational awareness on the battlefield.
The SBIRS GEO Flight-4 launched on January 19, 2018, and began responding to the Air Force’s 460th Space Wing’s commands just 37 minutes after liftoff. Using its liquid apogee engine, the satellite successfully propelled itself to a geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) altitude of about 22,000 miles, deployed its solar arrays and antennas, and began initial checkout.