First SBIRS Satellite Reaches Destination

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The U.S. Air Force’s first Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite successfully executed a series of engine burns following its May 7 launch and is now in its intended geosynchronous orbit, an Air Force official said May 20.

All of the missile-warning spacecraft’s systems are performing nominally, Air Force Brig. Gen. (select) Roger Teague, director of the Infrared Systems Directorate, said in an emailed response to questions.

The SBIRS spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., was deployed into a geosynchronous transfer orbit by an Atlas 5 rocket. The satellite’s liquid apogee engine was fired six times to circularize its orbit at some 36,000 kilometers. The satellite must undergo a six-month checkout and calibration phase before entering operations.