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Mating Season: Engineers have mated the infrared sensor payload and spacecraft bus of the Air Force’s second SBIRS early warning satellite, according to lead contractor Lockheed Martin. In a release June 10, the company stated that the successful coupling paves the way for system-level environmental and acceptance testing in preparation for the satellite’s launch in 2011. This satellite, designated GEO-2 is the second of four, and potentially more, space based infrared systems satellites that Lockheed’s team is building for the Air Force to replace the defense support program early warning constellation. GEO-1 is slated for launch next year. Northrop Grumman supplies the SBIRS payload, which consists of a scanning and a staring sensor to detect and track ballistic missiles and other surface activities.