A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket has successfully deployed the SBIRS GEO Flight 4 satellite into orbit. The billion-dollar U.S. early missile-warning satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 41 on Saturday, Jan. 20 at 00:48 GMT (19:48 EST on Jan. 19).
Following the launch SBIRS GEO Flight 4, Lockheed Martin, a U.S. defense and aerospace contractor that built the satellite, confirmed they had successfully established contact. The satellite completes the SBIRS GEO base constellation with Flights 1, 2 and 3 launched in 2011, 2013 and 2017 respectively. The constellation will give the U.S. an unmatched ability to detect and track any missile launched from anywhere in the world.
“SBIRS is the nation’s 24-7 global watchman, with infrared eyes ready to detect and deliver early warning and tracking of ballistic missiles,” said Lockheed Martin’s vice president of overhead persistent infrared systems mission area, Tom McCormick. “A cornerstone of the nation’s missile defense system, SBIRS is proving even more precise and powerful than expected.”
The SBIRS GEO constellation’s operations are overseen by the 460th Space Wing. The 460th Space Wing is responsible for global missile warning, space surveillance and communications.
Saturday’s launch was particularly important for ULA as it was their second successive national security launch within seven days. The first of the two launches deployed the classified NROL-47 payload into orbit. “Meeting the challenge of launching two critical national security missions from opposite coasts within a week, the entire ULA team once again demonstrated its unwavering dedication to 100 percent mission success,” said the company’s vice president of government satellite launches, Laura Maginnis.
Image Credit: ULA