U.S. Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency

U.S. Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency

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Missile Defense Agency

MDA News Release

5700 18th Street, Bldg 245
Fort Belvoir, VA 22060-5573

Successful Space Tracking Surveillance System Demonstrator Satellites Launch

September 25, 2009

The Missile Defense Agency, supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center Missile Defense Systems Group and the commercial United Launch Alliance, successfully launched two Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) Demonstrator satellites from Launch Pad 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at approximately 8:20 A.M. today. The satellites were launched in tandem on a Delta II 7920-10 launch vehicle into low-Earth orbit.

In orbit the satellites will use onboard infrared sensors to detect, track and discriminate ballistic missiles throughout their trajectories for the layered Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). The satellites will communicate with the BMDS via the Missile Defense Space Experimentation Center at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., and connect to the BMDS Command, Control Battle Management and Communications (C2BMC) system. The satellites will contribute to the BMDS test bed, which will assess STSS system capabilities and its ability to operate in concert with other parts of the multi-layered missile defense architecture.

STSS is a key component in MDA's development of a space-based sensor layer to detect missile launches, provide continuous target tracking, and pass track data to missile defense interceptors with the accuracy and timeliness necessary to enable successful target interception. Each satellite is equipped with an acquisition and a tracking sensor. On-orbit sensor performance will be tested in a series of scheduled events involving ground targets, airborne targets and short and long range ballistic missile targets.

The BMDS space sensor layer will provide combatant commanders with the ability to continuously track strategic and tactical ballistic missiles from launch through termination. Early launch detection and continuous midcourse tracking of target missiles will significantly increase the engagement time and defended area of the BMDS.