Air Force, SAIC, SES, and Orbital launch staring infrared sensor aboard SES-2 satellite

BY Courtney E. Howard

MCLEAN, Va.—A team that included personnel from the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), SES Government Solutions, Orbital Sciences Corp., and Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) launched the Commercially Hosted Infrared Payload (CHIRP) sensor into space aboard the SES-2 satellite. It marks the first time a U.S. Air Force payload has been hosted on a commercial mission.

“The launch of CHIRP represents years of dedicated research, design development, and testing performed by SAIC, SMC, SES Government Solutions, and Orbital,” explains Stu Shea, SAIC group president. “This program is an example for how the government can cut costs by more than 50 percent in the future by taking advantage of hosted payloads to augment missions.”

A company team is providing the electro-optical sensors for the SES-2 satellite program.
A company team is providing the electro-optical sensors for the SES-2 satellite program.

The CHIRP sensor, developed by Third Generation Infrared System (3GIRS) Risk Reduction team scientists for SMC and Air Force Research Laboratory, persistently views a quarter of the Earth from geosynchronous orbit using a telescope. Its large-format focal plane array accommodates a wide-field-of-view infrared staring system to sense bright spots on the surface of the Earth that aid in the early warning of missile launches, as well as to support other military missions.

Staff at the SAIC-developed CHIRP Mission Analysis Center (CMAC) in Seal Beach, Calif., will remotely command and monitor the sensor. CHIRP sensor data will be transmitted securely to a government facility and CMAC for mission data processing and sensor evaluation.

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February 2014
Volume 25, Issue 2

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