Eighteen years after its start, SBIRS still not quite replaces DSP (or, the Air Force gets less by spending more)

SBIRS GEO? So you’re looking at half the constellation, then. Click to embiggen. Picture from wikimedia.

Sad but true.  According to this post on Spaceflightnow.com’s site, prime contractor Lockheed Martin and its customer, the United States Air Force (USAF), are slowly and expensively achieving a goal.  That is, they are replacing older USAF Defense Support Program (DSP–and more DSP info here) satellites with Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO satellites.  The SBIRS GEO-2 satellite is officially operating as the newest part of the USAF’s early warning infrared satellite constellation.  The majority of this constellation consists, currently, of DSP satellites.

DSP, it’s what currently works…click to embiggen. Photo from USAF.mil site

Consider, the older “block” (generation) of five DSP satellites cost about $400 million per satellite (which this USAF fact sheet confirms).  This makes the DSP program seem like an outright bargain compared to the $17.6 billion the USAF has spent on the two SBIRS GEO satellites so far.

But that’s not what I want to talk about.  This article really is just a hint of the next lesson series I would like to write for you.  What do both SBIRS and DSP have in common, aside from the infrared sensor payload?

Again, for the American readers, have a great Thanksgiving!  Everyone else, tomorrow and perhaps Friday is time off for me, so have a great rest of the week.

3 thoughts on “Eighteen years after its start, SBIRS still not quite replaces DSP (or, the Air Force gets less by spending more)

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