Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin’s Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit missile warning satellite – the SBIRS GEO Flight 3 – was encapsulated Jan. 7 at Cape Canaveral, the company announced recently.

The U.S. Air Force satellite is scheduled to launch Jan. 19 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

The SBIRS GEO Flight 3 is the latest to join a network of satellites equipped with scanning and staring sensors that collect and transmit infrared surveillance information to relay ground station. That information is used by the U.S. military to detect missile launches, support ballistic missile defense, expand technical intelligence-gathering, and bolster situational awareness on the battlefield, Lockheed says. Infrared data will also be made available for new qualified military and civilian uses at the Air Force’s recently opened Tools, Applications and Processing Lab in Boulder, Colo.

“The satellite’s successful delivery and encapsulation closes out a manufacturing process that Lockheed Martin has continued to streamline with each build, driving significant schedule and cost reductions into the SBIRS program,” says David Sheridan, vice president of Lockheed’s overhead persistent infrared systems mission area.

“With its launch, the addition of GEO Flight 3 into the constellation will greatly enhance SBIRS’s ability to provide resilient, space-based infrared surveillance capabilities for decades to come.”

The next satellite in the constellation is the SBIRS GEO Flight 4, which is currently in storage and set to undergo final assembly, integration, and testing before its 2017 launch date.