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Communications cross-link tested

REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Jan. 19 (UPI) -- A communications cross-link between missile defense satellites tested successfully after activation by U.S. companies Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.

Northrop, the prime contractor on the communications project, said the radio frequency relay between missile defense satellites establishes communications between a spacecraft that is out of line of contact of a ground station through a satellite that is in range.

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"The cross-link expands the regions of the world where both satellites are in communication, enabling closure of the fire control loop with missile defense interceptors," said Doug Young, vice president of Missile Defense and Warning programs for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "The ability to acquire and hand-off timely tracked data from the infrared sensors on board STSS (space tracking and surveillance system) to the Ballistic Missile Defense System's intercept chain is a critical capability for destroying targets as early as possible during their flight."

Details about the testing weren't disclosed but Northrop said the missile tracking capability being demonstrated by the STSS Demonstration program will mature the design and concepts of operation for a future operational constellation to enable earlier intercepts of threat missiles and to significantly improve missile defense capabilities for the nation, deployed forces and allies.

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