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  • Satellite Evolution

Northrop Grumman’s space tracking and surveillance system satellites complete mission

Built by Northrop Grumman Corporation in support of the Missile Defense Agency, two demonstration Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) satellites successfully completed their missions and have been retired. Their achievements pave the way for future operational missile warning and tracking systems that will defend the nation.

“Launched in 2009 and expected to operate for four years, these demonstration satellites outlived their design life threshold three times over,” said Sarah Willoughby, vice president, overhead persistent infrared and geospatial systems, Northrop Grumman. “Now we are applying what we learned from STSS for future systems to keep America and its allies safe.”

The STSS experimental spacecraft proved their ability to detect and track short-, medium-, intermediate- and intercontinental-range missiles from boost phase to midcourse, then communicate target-quality track data to command and control systems for interception.

The satellites used sensors to detect and track ballistic missiles for interception. They tracked targets; helped discriminate real threats, guide interceptors to targets, and assess interceptor hits; collected data on launches, on-orbit satellites, satellite re-entries and other space-based missions; and played a critical role in one of MDA’s integrated Ballistic Missile Defense System flight test.

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