STSS Sats Are Up

On Friday morning a United Launch Alliance Delta II boosted the Missile Defense Agency’s two Space Tracking and Surveillance System demonstrator satellites into low-Earth orbit from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., the sensors aboard the STSS demo spacecraft are expected to detect, track, and discriminate ballistic missiles throughout their trajectories as part of MDA’s layered ballistic missile defense system. Members of the 45th Space Wing at Patrick AFB, Fla., provided resource protection for the NASA-led launch. Northrop Grumman built the STSS demo spacecraft, and in a Sept. 25 release, VP and STSS program manager Gabe Watson said he expects the STSS demo to “show the inherent advantages space sensors bring to persistent missile tracking and engagement.” MDA expects the demo sats to remain in orbit for two to four years and pave the way for fielding an operational constellation. (MDA release and fact sheet)