Investigation Finds SBIRS Launch Delay

Investigators have identified a hardware problem that has been delaying the launch of the third Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) geosynchronous satellite. The problem is not with the SBIRS early missile warning satellite, but with other systems that use a liquid apogee engine similar to that used by SBIRS to raise the satellite into orbit after detachment from the launch vehicle, according to a press release. The launch of SBIRS GEO-3 from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., had been scheduled for Oct. 3, but was delayed on Sept. 10 because of engine anomalies found in two other satellites. The investigation team has studied the similarities of design between the anomalous systems and SBIRS and will complete its report within the next few weeks. The rescheduled launch is not expected before January. SBIRS is designed to provide more accurate data for missile warning, missile defense, technical intelligence, and battlespace awareness, according to Lockheed Martin. (See also: SBIRS Joining the Fight.)