US Space Force’s SBIRS GEO-6 satellite ready for launch

The production of the US Space Force’s latest missile warning satellite, the Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (SBIRS GEO-6), has been completed ahead of schedule as it readies for launch in 2022.

Lockheed Martin’s sixth SBIRS GEO-6 missile warning satellite went into storage after completion nearly a month ahead of its September 30 Acquisition Program Baseline (APB) requirement date following an assessment by US Space Force Space Systems Command on September 2.

The SBIRS GEO-6 has been built with increase power generation and cyber hardening by Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin

Once launched, SBIRS GEO-6 will join the US Space Force’s constellation of missile warning satellites, equipped with scanning and staring infrared surveillance sensors to detect missile launches, support ballistic missile defence and improve battlefield situational awareness.

Like its immediate predecessor, SBIRS GEO-5, which launched on May 18, 2021, SBIRS GEO-6 is built on a modernised LM2100 Combat Bus, intended to provide greater resiliency and cyber-hardening, and improve spacecraft power generation, propulsion, and electronics.

In June 2021, SBIRS GEO-5 turned on its sensors for the first time during space vehicle checkout and transmitted its first images back to Earth in a milestone known as "First Light." 

SBIRS GEO-6 and GEO-5 were originally slated to be clones of previous SBIRS satellites produced by Lockheed Martin. However, in 2015, the US Air Force agreed to rebaseline the contract for the two satellites and upgrade both systems.

“From the LM2100, we’ve really been able to enhance resiliency developing a ‘Combat Bus’ and a bridge to achieving the resilient missile warning required for the Space Force’s Next-Gen OPIR Block 0 System,” stated Col Matt Spencer, senior materiel leader for Space Systems Command’s GEO/Polar Division.