Demo satellites detect, track missile

Dec. 9, 2010 at 9:35 AM
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VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Demonstration satellites built by U.S. companies Northrop Grumman and Raytheon successfully detected and tracked an ICBM test launch.

The U.S. Air Force said the Space Tracking and Surveillance System Demonstration program satellites tracked the Minuteman III through the boost and post-boost phases for the first time.

The single re-entry test vehicle from the missile traveled about 5,300 miles to a pre-determined point about 200 miles southwest of Guam.

The missile defense satellites transmitted tracking data to the Missile Defense Integration and Operations Center at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., where the information is being analyzed.

"STSS acquired the target during the boost phase and continued to track post-boost using multiple track sensor infrared bands for the first time," said Doug Young, vice president of missile defense and missile warning programs for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "This test demonstrated the ability of STSS to track cold-body objects post-boost, an important capability needed by the Missile Defense Agency for the Ballistic Missile Defense System."

The test was conducted in mid-September. Earlier that month STSS autonomously acquired and tracked a threat representative short-range ballistic missile that was launched during an MDA test involving the Airborne Laser Test Bed.

The Missile Defense Agency is pursuing the STSS Demonstration program as a space-based sensor component of the Ballistic Missile Defense System.

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