Decade on and still going strong for Northrop Grumman missile tracking satellites

Stephen Kuper

The Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) satellites built by Northrop Grumman for the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) have far surpassed their four-year on-orbit design life, with the recent completion of a 10th year of space operations.

Decade on and still going strong for Northrop Grumman missile tracking satellites
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Still in operation today, the STSS satellites continue to provide critical support for missile and national defence.  

Two STSS satellites were launched into low-Earth orbit in 2009 and proved the operational value of space-based precision mid-course ballistic missile tracking.

STSS has tracked ballistic missiles through all phases of flight and in 2013 demonstrated the 'launch on remote' capability, which significantly expands the defended area of a US Navy Aegis cruiser.

Bob Mehltretter, vice president, military and civil space, Northrop Grumman, said, "STSS proved that space-based assets could significantly improve our nation’s missile defence capability and paved the way for future systems. Being able to track missiles from low-Earth orbit allows threats to be engaged earlier in the process using existing interceptors.

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"Northrop Grumman is leveraging all the experience we gained from our legacy OPIR [overhead persistent infrared] systems – STSS, DSP [Defense Support Program], and SBIRS [Space-Based Infrared System] – to develop our nation’s future OPIR programs."

Northrop Grumman is a global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in autonomous systems, cyber, C4ISR, space, strike, and logistics and modernisation to customers worldwide.

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