A Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman-built missile detection satellite has entered its operational trial period after the U.S. Air Force concluded post-launch evaluations five months ahead of schedule, Spaceflight Now reported Tuesday.
Stephen Clark writes the Space Based Infrared System is part of a $17.6 billion Air Force initiative intended to support global missile warning capabilities of the Defense Support Program legacy satellites.
The spacecraft was launched on board a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket on March 19 and entered the trial period on Oct. 21 after the Air Force Space Command accepted the satellite, the report said.
Clark writes SBIRS satellites are built to have infrared sensors meant to identify and warn the U.S. and its allies about missile launch heat signatures and potential attacks.
The system is also designed to pick up infrared signals from large explosions, volcanoes and wildfires, Spaceflight Now reports.