U.S. Air Force’s missile-detection satellite successfully put in orbit
The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully put the U.S. Air Force’s Space-Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit Satellite (SBIRS Geo-3) in high orbit, on its way to a surveillance post more than 22,000 miles above Earth’s surface.
The Atlas V rocket took off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 7:42 p.m. ET on Friday, and dropped off the missile detection and early warning satellite in orbit 44 minutes later.
The launch was initially slated for Thursday, Jan. 19th, but an issue in the rocket’s sensor system forced the company to postpone it by a day.
Dennis Bythewood, the Director of U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles, said, “Geo Flight 3 will provide faster and more accurate missile warning to the warfighter, detect dimmer events and shorter missile burns than the ... DSP satellites.”
The newly launched satellite will join the GEO-1 and GEO-2 that were launched in 2011 and 2013, respectively. GEO-3 is third satellite in the SBIRS series while the fourth is slated for November 2017.
The powerful sensors in the GEO-3 satellite are capable of detecting the heat of any missile produced during a launch and it can quickly trace the course of the missile from the location of its origin.