COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo .– The next generation of US Space Force missile warning satellites have taken a design milestone, paving the way for manufacturing and integration.
The next-generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program is the successor to the Space Based Infrared System, which currently functions as the military’s first constellation of missile warning satellites. Next Gen OPIR will be composed of five satellites: three in geostationary orbit (Next Gen OPIR GEO) and two others in very elliptical orbit for polar coverage. The launch of the first satellite is scheduled for 2025.
On August 24, at Space Symposium 2021, the Space Force announced that the Next Gen OPIR GEO satellites have successfully completed the Critical Design Review, which validates the maturity of the design and opens the manufacturing phase, d integration and testing. The preliminary design review was completed in 2019. A system-wide critical review for Next Gen OPIR GEO is expected this fall.
“With this successful CDR, we are on schedule to launch the first GEO satellite in 2025,” Col. Brian Denaro, space development program manager and director of the Space Development Corps, Space Systems Command, said in a statement. “As the backbone of our nation’s assured missile warning capability, we are leveraging the streamlined procurement authorities of the next-generation OPIR program to rapidly prototype solutions, using available industry capabilities. and mature technology, to ensure that we can provide advanced capabilities to the combatant at the operational level. relevant speeds.
The Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin $ 2.9 billion in 2018 for design work, while the Space Force issued an additional $ 4.9 billion to begin manufacturing.
The news comes shortly after two critical sensor payloads passed their own critical design reviews. Lockheed Martin has subcontracted the construction of the infrared sensor for the first three Next Gen OPIR GEO satellites to two teams. Raytheon Technologies and a team of Ball Aerospace and Northrop Grumman will each provide a payload to go to one of these satellites. Lockheed Martin will select a supplier to supply a third sensor for the latest GEO satellites.
Northrop Grumman also designs the two polar satellites. The Space Force awarded the company $ 2.4 billion in 2020 for design work on these.
Meanwhile, the Space Force has already started issuing contracts for the next series of next-generation OPIR satellites. In May, the service awarded $ 29 million to Raytheon Technologies and $ 28 million to Millennium Space Systems, a subsidiary of Boeing, to build digital models. Contractors will also use emerging digital engineering tools to validate whether next-generation GEO satellites can fulfill their mission in a new orbit regime: a medium earth orbit closer to the planet’s surface.
Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.