The U.S. Space-Based Infrared System (Sbirs) and its predecessor Defense Support Program satellites are getting a lot of attention because of the tragic crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, allegedly shot down over Eastern Ukraine July 17.
We at Aviation Week have tracked the progress of these specialized satellites over their development and deployment. Read here to learn about what they can do -- including a "see-through-cloud" capability that allows these powerful infrared sensors to detect missile launches, even through cloud cover.
Sbirs and DSP are considered the U.S.'s first line of defense against ballsitc missile attack -- but these sensors can be "tuned" to look for other threats, including surface-to-air missiles, especially because the alleged shootdown happened in excess of 30,000 ft.
Read here to look at some of Aviation Week's exlcusive coverage of these satellites.