The Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) Demonstration program satellites, built by Northrop Grumman [NOC] and Raytheon [RTN] detected and tracked an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) launched on June 16 by the U.S. Air Force, the companies said Friday.
“Another reliable performance by the STSS Demonstration program satellites is an encouraging development for the nation’s missile defense system,” Gabe Watson, vice president of missile defense and missile warning programs for Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems sector, said in a statement. “The capability demonstrated by these space-based sensors is a strong indication of the value this system brings to missile defense.”
The launch, designated Glory Trip 200GM-1, was the 200th scheduled test launch of an ICBM Minuteman Missile.
The three-stage, ICBM Minuteman III missile carried a single, inert reentry vehicle atop a fully modernized booster, guidance set and post-boost vehicle. The missile traveled about 4,800 miles in approximately30 minutes, hitting a target in the Ronald Reagan Test Site near Kwajalein Atoll in the western chain of the Marshall Islands.
The STSS missile defense satellites transmitted tracking data from the launch to the Missile Defense Integration and Operations Center at Schreiver Air Force Base, Colo., where the information is being analyzed. Earlier in June, STSS successfully detected and tracked a two-stage Ground-Based Interceptor during a U.S. Missile Defense Agency test.
The Missile Defense Agency is pursuing the STSS Demonstration program as a space-based sensor component of the Ballistic Missile Defense System. The STSS satellites will provide missile defense sensor risk reduction concepts to support development and fielding of future operational missile defense satellite constellation.