ULA launches missile defense satellite

Jan. 19 (UPI) — United Launch Alliance launched a missile defense satellite into low-Earth orbit Friday, one day after scrubbing the mission.

ULA’s Atlas V rocket blasted off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Friday’s mission continues the ongoing modernization of the United States’ missile monitoring technology. The payload includes GEO-4, the fourth satellite in the Space-Based Infrared System, or SBIRS.

Lockheed Martin was responsible for the design and construction of GEO-4, while the U.S. Air Force manages the missile defense system.

Thursday’s launch was delayed “due to a ground issue associated with the booster liquid oxygen system,” ULA wrote on Twitter.

The SBIRS GEO Flight-4 satellite was the fourth to be launched by ULA and the Air Force.

According to Tom McCormick, vice president for Lockheed Martin’s overhead persistent infrared systems mission area, the satellite completes the original baseline constellation, allowing SBIRS to finally offer worldwide coverage.

The improved technology infrared-tracking technology offered by SBIRS will help the Air Force identify dimmer targets. Officials said the U.S. military must continually improve the system’s capabilities to detect missiles designed to an undetectably small a heat signature.

The SBIRS satellites will collect data and relay it to an Air Force command center where it will be used to issue missile warnings and inform decisions related to missile defense systems, as well as improve battle space awareness and technical intelligence.

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