GEO-1, the first Space Based Infrared Systems geosynchronous satellite continues to make excellent progress on orbit, said Air Force space officials last week. “The Air Force is a step closer to making this new persistent infrared surveillance capability available to the nation, our warfighters, and allies,” said Col. Mike Noble, deputy director for infrared space systems at Los Angeles AFB, Calif. Launched into space on May 7 from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., GEO-1 successfully completed all orbit-raising maneuvers to reach its intended geosynchronous orbit, said the officials. Controllers successfully deployed the satellite’s solar arrays, high-gain communications antennas, and light shade for its infrared sensors. They continue to perform additional spacecraft checkout and infrared payload tests to validate and characterize the system’s performance. Once checkout is complete, the Air Force will evaluate GEO-1’s performance in the operational environment. (Los Angeles release)
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.