Early Warning of Early Warning

Lockheed Martin has handed over control of the first on-orbit space based infrared system sensor payload for detecting ballistic missile launches to the Air Force, the company announced Aug. 5. The Air Force will commence formal operations with the payload—dubbed HEO-1 because it resides on a classified intelligence satellite in highly elliptical orbit—later this year after completing a final independent assessment, the company said. The second sensor payload, HEO-2, is also on orbit on a different host spacecraft—in this case, over the northern hemisphere—and is expected to begin operations by early 2009, the company said. Its performance in early on-orbit checkout has met or exceeded specifications, Lockheed Martin noted.