When Staring is Proper

Colorado Springs, Colo.—The Air Force expects the intelligence community will finally have access this summer to critical imagery and data from Space Based Infrared System satellites, said service Secretary Deborah Lee James on Thursday at the 31st Space Symposium here. The infrared staring sensor resident on each of the Air Force’s two SBIRS geosynchronous Earth orbiting satellites has not been fully utilized to date, due largely to problems with data exploitation originating with the ground system, she said. Prime contractor Lockheed Martin is in the process of completing several block upgrades meant to fix that problem and delivered the most recent improvements in mid-March, said James. By next year, the starting sensor data will be fully integrated into the information packages that go out to military commanders and intelligence community users, she noted. The Air Force anticipates finalizing this summer the analysis of alternatives that will shape its acquisition strategy for a SBIRS follow-on program, added James.