U.S. Air Force Space Command’s Los Angeles-based Space and Missile Systems Center said May 10 that the second Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) payload hosted on a classified satellite in a highly elliptical orbit was recently certified for operational technical intelligence missions.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) started the operational acceptance activities for the payload in August 2009 immediately after certifying the first SBIRS Highly Elliptical Orbit sensor for technical intelligence missions, the Air Force said in its press release. Through data characterization and functional testing of the SBIRS ground software, the Air Force said, the NGA was able to validate that SBIRS “meets the [technical intelligence community’s] need for accurate, timely, reliable and unambiguous [technical intelligence] data for use in intelligence production.”

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