Airborne Laser test bed exercise featured short range missiles tracked by STSS Demonstration satellites

Posted by John McHale
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., 2 April 2011. Short-range missiles launched during an Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB) exercise were monitored and tracked by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's (MDA) Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) Demonstration satellites.
The STSS Demonstration satellites faced a different set of challenges than previously seen because of quick timelines associated with the target, says Gabe Watson, vice president of missile defense and missile warning programs for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector.

"STSS generated a track with the acquisition sensor and autonomously passed the track to the multi-band track sensor for the first time against a missile target," Watson says. "The system performed very well, without operator control, and provided high-quality track data to the ground station."
The STSS track sensor was cued significantly faster than in previous tests, which was required with this scenario, Watson says. "These demonstration satellites employ high-performance infrared sensors with on-board processing that are able to exploit all the advantages of space for precision missile tracking," he adds.
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is pursuing the STSS Demonstration program as a space-based sensor component of the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). Data from the STSS satellites supports development of a future operational satellite constellation for the BMDS.
The STSS satellites were built by Northrop Grumman Corp. and Raytheon.


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