STSS demonstration satellites gathered data for future missile tracking system
By Doug Richardson
The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) demonstration satellites collected data during an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense test on 26 June that will be used to create a concept of operations for future space-borne, operational missile-defence sensors, Northrop Grumman announced on 5 December. The satellites had been built by a team consisting of Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.
Both STSS satellites have participated in major Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) tests since 2010. With sensor payloads capable of detecting visible and infrared light, the low-earth orbiting spacecraft have demonstrated a number of capabilities that had existed in theory or in the laboratory, but never in the actual environment where they would be used. They have shown, for example, that precision tracking of a ballistic missile throughout its flight can be done with satellites alone.
Trial FTM-18 in June had been a combined Aegis Launch on Remote and Engage on Remote exercise involving the successful intercept of a medium-range target by the SM-3 Block 1B, the newest variant of the Standard Missile-3 interceptor. It was conducted to support the initial phase of the MDA's planned Phased Adaptive Approach for missile defence in Europe.196 of 335 words
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