United Launch Alliance has started final assembly of the Atlas V rocket that is set to launch Jan. 18 to send to the geostationary Earth orbit a Lockheed Martin-built satellite designed to help the U.S. Air Force provide missile warning data to the U.S. and its allies, Spaceflight Now reported Friday.
The Space Based Infrared System GEO Flight 4 satellite will lift off aboard the ULA-made rocket at 7:40 p.m. Eastern time from a launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida to join the three other surveillance satellites that the service branch started to deploy since 2011.
The planned launch will mark the completion of the initial SBIR satellite fleet that will work to provide missile warning and infrared surveillance data.
The Air Force transported the fourth SBIRS satellite from Lockheed's Sunnyvale, California-based facility to Cape Canaveral on Oct. 31 through a C-5 Galaxy cargo aircraft.
The service branch also asked Lockheed to produce two more SBIRS satellites that are expected to launch by early 2020s, the report added.