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AUSA 2023: SDA launching space-based missile tracking sensors, seeks new fire-control systems

A SpaceX Falcon 9 loaded with a T0 payload for SDA's Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture (PWSA) is pictured on the launch pad at Vandenberg Space Force Base. (Space Development Agency)

The US Space Development Agency (SDA) is fielding tranches of new space-based missile warning and tracking satellites, and a new fire-control system is being explored for a second tranche of vehicles.

“This year we've got Tranche Zero [T0] satellites on orbit,” US Army Colonel Alexander Rasmussen, SDA's chief for the ‘Tracking Layer' said during a 9 October briefing at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) annual conference in Washington, DC.

“T0 tracking satellites are a demo. We've got first flight on them, and we'll start sharing data across the [DoD] enterprise on that, and then we'll have four more satellites launch later this [boreal] fall in collaboration with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA),” Col Rasmussen said.

“These are demos that were for feature tranches, and then for the rest of them for missile warning [and] missile tracking, we're moving forward with tranche one [T1]. Satellites are being built and they'll be launched in spring of [20]25,” he said. “That'll be our first operational constellation for missile warning and tracking at SDA. That'll get us near global mono coverage. So the entire Earth is going to have one [low Earth orbit] LEO OPIR [Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared] satellite looking at it in any given time … and then more than one satellite at the pole.”

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