SBIRS Joining the Fight

The Space-Based Infrared Systems’ mission control station is on track to be operationally accepted in November, Col. Kerri Mellor, division chief of the Air Force Exploitation Capabilities Division, said Friday. Command and control of the SBIRS satellites and payloads were transferred to the Block 10 ground system Mission Control Station at Buckley AFB, Colo. from three legacy sites, in April. Speaking at an AFA Mitchell Institute breakfast on Capitol Hill, Mellor said the consolidation improves data utilization, enhances initial recording time, and improves queuing data for missile defense systems. The SBIRS’ sensors also allow for enhanced sensitivity and greater accuracy, Mellor said. She noted legacy and the SBIRS sensors detect and track over 300 missile events and over 10,000 events of interest in a typical year, but with SBIRS coming online “we’re seeing a significant increase in capabilities with dramatic growth potential in other mission areas, to include battlespace awareness, technical intelligence, and civil applications” Mellor said. The enhanced capability “means the space-based infrared system is directly contributing to the fight today and is improving our warfighters’ ability to see dimmer, threatening targets faster.” Mellor said the system’s third geosynchronous satellite is awaiting launch at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., but Lt. Gen Samuel Greaves, commander of the USAF Space and Missile Systems Center, announced earlier this September that a launch scheduled for Oct. 3 has been delayed due to an issue on another non-SBIRS satellite.