Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 3: Space Vehicles
Copyright © 2024 Andreas Parsch

Lockheed Martin LS-16 SBIRS

The SBIRS (Space-Based Infrared System) program was begun in 1996 to replace the DSP (Defense Satellite Program) satellites. Originally, SBIRS was to have to components, named SBIRS-High for satellites in GEO and SBIRS-Low for satellites in LEO. In 2001, SBIRS-Low was taken over by the Missile Defense Agency and renamed STSS (Space Tracking and Surveillance System). Since then, the plain label SBIRS is used to refer to the SBIRS-High segment.

A total of six SBIRS GEO satellites have been launched, and all remain active as of early 2024. They have received the MDS designation LS-16A. The mission payload consists of two IR sensors. The scanning sensor provides 24/7 coverage of the Earth surface for global strategic missile warning. The so-called Step-Stare sensor has a highly accurate pointing system to provide detail coverage for dedicated mission theaters and areas of special interest.

Image: Lockheed Martin
LS-16A (SBIRS GEO-1 to -4)

From GEO-5 onwards, the SBIRS satellites used a modernized bus, the Lockheed Martin LM2100M. It was originally planned to launch four satellites of this configuration, but the last two were cancelled in 2019. The U.S. Space Force instead plans to create an improved capability under its Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared Program (NG-OPIR).

Image: Lockheed Martin
LS-16A (SBIRS GEO-5 to -6)

Name Intl. Designation Launch Notes
SBIRS GEO-12011-019A07-May-2011Also known as USA-230
SBIRS GEO-22013-011A19-Mar-2013Also known as USA-241
SBIRS GEO-32017-004A21-Jan-2017Also known as USA-273
SBIRS GEO-42018-009A20-Jan-2018Also known as USA-282
SBIRS GEO-52021-042A18-May-2021Also known as USA-315
SBIRS GEO-62022-092A04-Aug-2022Also known as USA-336

Launch dates of the SBIRS series

Main Sources

[1] Wikipedia: Space-Based Infrared System
[2] Gunter Krebs: SBIRS-GEO 1, 2, 3, 4
[3] Gunter Krebs: SBIRS-GEO 5, 6
[4] USSF: Space Based Infrared System

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 3

1 February 2024