What is the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS)?
The Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS), built by Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale, California, uses infrared surveillance to provide early missile warning for the U.S. military and is considered one of the nation’s highest priority space programs. The system includes a combination of satellites and hosted payloads in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) and Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO) and ground hardware and software.
What military missions does SBIRS support?
This powerful system provides infrared data in support of four mission areas:
Delivery of critical information supporting the effective operation of missile defense systems
Delivery of comprehensive IR data to help characterize battlespace conditions
Reliable, unambiguous, timely and accurate warning for theater and strategic missile launches
Ability to characterize IR event signatures, phenomenology and threat performance data
A Powerful Data Source
SBIRS has powerful overhead sensors that provide vast amounts of data. At the SBIRS Mission Control Station, Overhead Persistent Infrared Battlespace Awareness Center at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, this data is being used for operational applications across areas like battlespace awareness, intelligence and 24/7 tactical alerts.
As the demand for remote sensing capabilities continues to rise, the U.S. Air Force’s newly created data utilization Lab is bringing together government, industry and academia to better understand how data from satellites like SBIRS can be better applied on and off the battlefield.
How We're Evolving SBIRS
These newest infrared surveillance and missile warning satellites, known as GEO-5 and GEO-6, will be based on Lockheed Martin’s modernized A2100 spacecraft — an update that improves system affordability and resiliency while also adding the flexibility to use future payloads.
Information and images courtesy Lockheed Martin.