Northrop Grumman Wraps Up Integration of SBIRS Payload

Northrop Grumman announced the successful completion of integration and ambient functional testing for the third highly elliptical orbit payload in the Space Based Infrared System family. “The HEO-3 payload is on track to provide the same high-quality global persistent infrared surveillance capabilities as its predecessors,” said Stephen Toner, vice president of Northrop Grumman’s Military and Civil Space business unit, in the company’s Oct. 4 release. The payload now is moving into its next testing phase: electromagnetic-interference and thermal-vacuum-characterization testing, according to the release. Once that testing is done, the payload will enter its prototype acceptance testing. Northrop Grumman said the payload is scheduled for delivery in 2013. The Air Force already has two HEO payloads operating on orbit as well as one SBIRS satellite in geosynchronous orbit. They feature sophisticated infrared sensors that warn of missile launches and collect other types of intelligence. Lockheed Martin is the SBIRS prime contractor, while Northrop Grumman integrates the payloads.