Real On-Orbit Performance
Now ballistic missiles have no place to hide. Two Northrop Grumman-built Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) demonstrator satellites are on-orbit, demonstrating capabilities required for birth-to-death tracking of ballistic missiles and other cold objects in space.
Both satellites fly and work in tandem as a risk-reduction mission by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), paving the way for an operational constellation.
Using sensors capable of measuring infrared radiation from the vantage point of space, the satellites have demonstrated their ability to detect missile launches, track missiles from boost into midcourse and communicate with missile defense command and control systems.
Since launch in 2009, the two spacecraft have demonstrated the value of space-based sensors to missile defense. In addition to their missile tracking capability, the demonstrator satellites are showing how fewer Aegis missile defense destroyers can defend larger areas by using external cues provided by space-based sensors.