No big deal or anything, but the U.S. military is gearing up to send a missile-warning satellite into space on Thursday evening. Everything’s fine!
Space News reports that the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO Flight-4 satellite — created by Lockheed Martin — will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on board a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. True to the payload’s name, it will remain in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO). Weather conditions are looking good, and liftoff is scheduled for 7:52 p.m. Eastern.
While the launch timing might seem unnerving giving international tensions over nuclear weapons, the launch is just the latest in a series of missions with SBIRS payloads. For context, the first SBIRS satellite, GEO-1, launched in 2011, and it’s still in operation.
Though this latest launch isn’t in response to anything in particular, including that false missile threat in Hawaii recently, it’s pretty weird that Lockheed Martin is treating their missile-warning satellite like a baby, at least on social media.
The U.S. military uses SBIRS’s various satellites to gather intelligence about missile launches around the globe. According to Lockheed Martin, SBIRS provides “infrared data” for “missile defense,” “missile warning,” “battlespace awareness,” and “technical intelligence,” all of which sound ambiguous and terrifying.
Then again, in this strange new world, everything sounds a little scarier.
Anyone can watch Thursday’s launch live on YouTube. We’re including it below for anyone who’s interested, but mostly because of the sick bald eagle in the art work:
Ad astra, you guys.
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