Snapshot of New Space Capabilities

So far, the data from GEO-1, the first Space Based Infrared Systems geosynchronous satellite, have been “truly amazing,” said Gen. William Shelton, head of Air Force Space Command, Tuesday. Speaking at AFA’s Air & Space Conference just outside of Washington, D.C., Shelton said the missile warning spacecraft, which entered orbit in May, has slightly more than a year of sensor characterization ahead of it as part of its on-orbit checkout. “If that sounds like a long time, it is,” he noted. “We have got to shorten the time of this on-orbit checkout process for these first-of-a-kind spacecraft.” But SBIRS really does represent “a real leap ahead” in missile warning, technical intelligence, and battlespace awareness, he said. Similarly, AFPSC is excited about the Space Based Space Surveillance satellite for detecting debris and spacecraft from its orbital perch. “The biggest problem that we have with SBSS is the sheer amount of data coming off of that spacecraft and into the Joint Space Operation Center” at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., he said. “That’s actually a good problem to have.” Launched into space in September 2010, Shelton said operational acceptance of SBSS should be “very soon.”