The Air Force launched the fourth satellite in its next-generation missile warning constellation aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket Friday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The Space Based Infrared System satellite, informally known as GEO-4, is designed to provide the United States global infrared surveillance capabilities in missile detection and defense, especially as tensions continue to rise over North Korea’s ICBM program.
Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor on the SBIRS program. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments estimated the satellite cost approximately $1.7 billion.
The launch was the second within a week for ULA, a joint venture from Lockheed Martin and Boeing. On Jan. 12, ULA successfully launched a classified spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office aboard a Delta 4 rocket from at Vandenberg Air Force base in California.
The Jan. 19 launch featured an Atlas 5 411 rocket, powered by one solid rocket booster.