A First Time for Space-Based Missile Tracking

Northrop Grumman announced Monday that the Missile Defense Agency’s two Space Tracking and Surveillance System demonstration satellites have done what no space-based sensors have done before: track ballistic missiles in flight over their entire flight trajectories. This is dubbed “birth-to-death” tracking. “This is the first time a space-based sensor has tracked a ballistic missile through all phases of its flight, from launch, through midcourse, and re-entry,” said Doug Young, Northrop’s vice president for missile defense and warning. The satellites accomplished the feat by following target missiles launched during two tests of the Navy’s Aegis ballistic missile defense system in March in the waters off of Hawaii. MDA is using the Northrop-built STSS satellites, on orbit since September 2009, to validate the feasibility of space-based sensors to support shooting down ballistic missiles.