HEO-3 Shipped for Integration with Launch Vehicle

The Air Force and its industry partners shipped HEO-3, the third Space Based Infrared Systems sensor payload, for integration with its space launch vehicle and preparation for launch, announced service space officials on June 17. HEO-3 shipped on June 12, states the release. HEO-3 is the next in the series of IR sensor payloads destined for use on a classified intelligence-gathering satellite that operates in a highly elliptical orbit. It will replace HEO-1, which has been serving in that role as part of the SBIRS architecture, which provides early warning of missile launches and other types of battlefield data. The officials said ground testing of HEO-3 validated that its sensor performance “met or exceeded” that of its predecessor, HEO-2. The latter also is on orbit, along with two SBIRS geosynchronous orbit satellites, GEO-1 and GEO-2. Northrop Grumman supplies the SBIRS sensors. The Air Force does not release as much information publicly on the HEO payloads as it does on the GEO satellites.