An Early Indication of Early Warning

Gen. Robert Kehler, Air Force Space Command boss, said last week that his confidence in the scheduled delivery date of the first space based infrared system satellite for launch is “medium to high,” despite some work being done on lingering software issues with the spacecraft. Dubbed GEO-1, this SBIRS satellite is slated to go up into space in Fiscal 2010. Software issues have plagued GEO-1’s completion. But on the positive side, Kehler told reporters during a March 31 meeting at the Space Foundation symposium in Colorado that the performance of the first two SBIRS scanning sensors that operate on separate classified intelligence satellites in highly elliptical orbit has been very solid. He said this gives him a high level of assurance that the SBIRS GEO satellites will operate as advertised once on orbit. GEO-1 will carry the same type of scanning sensor, in addition to a staring sensor, that will give it the ability to discern missile launches and track those missiles in flight. It is one of as many as six SBIRS GEO satellites that the Air Force may procure. (Also read Kehler’s speech)