On the Lexington Institute’s website, defense analyst Loren Thompson, the organization’s chief operating officer, argues that the first dedicated Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) missile warning satellite must take priority should its launch date come into conflict with those of a pair of NASA planetary missions whose launch windows occur less than once per year.
“Given the inflexible timeframes in which the planetary missions must be launched, the solution is to defer launch of the missile warning satellite if it delayed for any reason, right? Wrong! The first launch of the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) that will detect hostile missiles has already been delayed many years, and we can’t wait any longer to replace aging early warning satellites already in orbit. If we do wait longer, there is a real danger that the government might lose its ability to detect some nuclear attacks. Obviously, you can’t deter such attacks effectively if you can’t detect them.”