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Northrop Grumman Completes Payload Acoustic Testing For SBIRS GEO-1 Payload

The SBIRS GEO satellite. Credit: Lockheed Martin.
by Staff Writers
Azusa CA (SPX) Oct 04, 2006
Northrop Grumman Corp. has announced that it has successfully completed acoustic testing of the payload for the first Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) geosynchronous orbit (GEO) satellite. The company will provide the payload to Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor and systems integrator for SBIRS.

During the test, the GEO-1 payload was subjected to the maximum sound and vibration levels expected during the spacecraft's launch into orbit. The payload's sensor assembly was assembled in a launch configuration for this un-powered acoustic exposure. The testing was performed inside Northrop Grumman's Large Acoustic Test Facility at Redondo Beach, Calif.

This step marks a key milestone in the test schedule for GEO-1. Over the summer, the fully integrated payload was put through ambient functional testing at Azusa to demonstrate critical payload functions. Engineers executed 147 separate tests which checked out functions such as command and telemetry, infrared data connectivity to the onboard signal processing assembly, internal data bus messaging, scanner and starer mission modes, and downlink interfaces. Additional preparations ensured that the payload could be mounted to the test fixture and tested to the required levels.

"Successful acoustic and ambient functional testing shows the quality of the workmanship and the integrity of the design," said James W. Burnett, vice president of the SBIRS program at Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems sector. "With this level of thorough preparation, we are confident that we will deliver a payload that will perform well."

The ambient functional tests will now be repeated at Azusa to verify that the payload suffered no damage during exposure to the acoustic test environment. The acoustic test phase is one of several test phases that will certify that the payload's design and manufacturing integrity are rugged enough to withstand the structural loads of space vehicle launching.

Upon successful completion of the post-acoustic ambient functional test, the payload will be put through an extensive flight software checkout and preparation for the thermal vacuum protoqualification testing scheduled for early 2007.

"The entire team continues to achieve significant progress in developing this critical program," said Mark Crowley, Lockheed Martin's SBIRS vice president. "GEO-1 will be a sophisticated, first-of-its-kind spacecraft and we look forward to providing our customer with the unparalleled new capabilities it will deliver to the warfighter."

The GEO-1 spacecraft recently completed spacecraft functional testing at Lockheed Martin's Space Systems facilities in Sunnyvale and is now being prepared for engineering thermal vacuum testing which will demonstrate the spacecraft performance at temperature extremes greater than those expected during on-orbit operations.

SBIRS will provide the nation with significantly improved missile warning capabilities and support other critical mission areas simultaneously including missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace characterization.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Sunnyvale, Calif., the SBIRS prime contractor, and Northrop Grumman, the payload provider, are developing SBIRS for the Space Based Infrared Systems Wing at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif.

Lockheed Martin is currently under contract to provide two payloads in highly elliptical orbit (HEO) and two GEO satellites, as well as fixed and mobile ground-based assets to receive and process the infrared data. The team has delivered both HEO payloads and is on schedule to launch the first GEO satellite in late 2008.

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