By Alberto C. Saldamando

As a Central Florida resident for over twenty years, I have had the opportunity to see many space shuttle and rocket launches not from simply tuning in on the local TV channels, CNN or online, but from going outside home to see them fly up and away.

Every time I’ve seen one, there is that sense of closeness and accomplishment because it happens around here, close to home. Every successful mission represents one more achievement toward the good of mankind, yet we do not get to pay close attention to all the important issues because we may be unaware of them. When it comes to security for all of us, the launch of the recent SBIRS Geo-1 satellite aboard the Atlus V rocket is of utmost importance for the future of the well-being of the United States of America and its allies.

The Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) is the newest defense system ready to work along end eventually replace the current Defense Support Program (DSP) that has already been in operation for over 30 years. The people that form part of the United Launch Alliance made this mission possible along with the U.S. Air Force.

The SBIRS Geo-1 Satellite is the beginning of a new era of persistence surveillance. Through sensor scanning, the satellite provides unparalleled global vigilance. With infrared capabilities, the Geo-1 serves for critical use in missile warning and defense, technical intelligence, and battlespace awareness.

As in homes, schools and workplaces, those sites depend on alarms in case of emergency. In this case, SBIRS plays a similar role. SBIRS is the new alarm system for the US that looks for signs of heat in our planet. While the alarms are found at roofs at homes and buildings, this special alarm travels around the world.

Missiles accumulate heat once launched. Something very similar can happen at home. Excess heat can occur if a teapot or kettle full of water is left on and makes a noise indicating it’s time to be removed. Same thing can happen if and when there is any kind of noticeable fire inside a home. The alarm would turn on by itself immediately.

Because of an extremely long distance, the satellite cannot feel the heat, but it has the capability to detect or track the heat’s infrared color. As soon as the satellite detects heat, it sends a message with detailed info, that can even include visual, to controllers. Then, they notify to the people responsible for the next task. If it is a missile, the right people would then be in charge of stopping it. It can detect forest fires as well.

It’s great to take into account what the U.S. Air Force is accomplishing to protect the lives of its citizens and of allied countries. ULA, a joint venture company formed by Lockheed Martin and Boeing Corporation, offers services for the country’s space missions, has over fifty years of experience in the field, and employs more rocket scientists than any other company in the world. The launch of Geo-1

While at NASA, I got to talk to Glorimar Rodriguez, a U.S. Air Force spokesperson. In this video en español, she explains in her own words the importance of this satellite:

If you did not get to see the launch, watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ry0vym6zVCI.