U.S. Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency

U.S. Department of Defense - Missile Defense Agency

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Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX)

The initial architecture concept for the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was a multi-phased approach. A series of highly sensitive surveillance and weapons control sensor systems which had to provide robust discrimination capabilities were key to the first phase. The Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) was conceived as a an early demonstration of critical technologies and functions for midcourse sensors. MSX supported SDI objectives by providing the system functional demonstrations, target and background data, and the technology demonstrations necessary for the midcourse sensor platforms. The primary mission of the MSX was to demonstrate the ability to acquire and track realistic midcourse objects against realistic backgrounds. Target experiments employed system-representative ranges, geometries, resolutions, and frame rates, and used existing IR technology with legacy to future operational sensors. As a space demonstration for the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization midcourse sensor concepts, MSX gathered data and explored limits to which midcourse functions could be performed. These functions included acquisition, cluster track, and resolution, bulk filtering, discrimination, handover, and multi-sensor fusion.

1996 MSX Photos

The Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) satellite launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California on April 24, 1996. The MSX satellite is used by the Missile Defense Agency to characterize ballistic missile signatures during the midcourse phase of missile flight against a variety of backgrounds.