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​An Atlas V rocket carrying the SBIRS GEO Flight 3 satellite lifts off from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., Jan 20, 2017. United Launch Alliance photo.

​The third Space Based Infrared System geosynchronous Earth orbit satellite successfully began transmitting data to its grounds station about 37 minutes after it was launched from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., on Friday. Now that the satellite is communicating with the ground, controllers will steer it to its ultimate destination in geosynchronous orbit, where it will join the two other satellites in the SBIRS group, which were launched in 2011 and 2013, according to a Lockheed Martin press release. The primary purpose of SBIRS’ advanced infrared sensors is strategic missile warning, but the satellites also produce data that will have other military and civil uses. The launch of Geo Flight 3 was originally delayed in September 2016 because of concerns related to performance of the liquid apogee engine in another vehicle. The fourth satellite in the SBIRS constellation is scheduled for assembly and launch later this year, according to Lockheed.