PACIFIC MISSILE RANGE FACILITY, Hawaii, Dec. 14, 2010 -- The Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) Demonstration satellites recently showed the ability of the space-based sensors to maximize defended areas through earlier tracking of missiles, thus allowing quicker launches by interceptors, known as a "force multiplier" capability. The two missile defense satellites, built by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) as the prime contractor and Raytheon Company (NYSE:RTN) as the sensor payload provider, observed an Aegis test Oct. 6 involving two missile launches within hours of each other from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Hawaii.

This Aegis test event showed the ability of STSS to view a dim medium-range missile, observe the target with both tracking sensors through booster burnout, and continue to observe the spent booster well into the post-boost midcourse phase.

Both STSS satellites transmitted tracking data to the Enterprise Sensors Lab (ESL) at the Missile Defense Integration and Operations Center at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., where the information was processed and fused with data from other sensor assets, to form a stereo track of the target vehicle.

"The ability to form a stereo track from STSS sensor data is a significant precursor to demonstrating the ability to support an Aegis Launch on Remote capability," said Doug Young, vice president of missile defense and missile warning programs for the Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector.

He noted that the STSS satellites are scheduled to participate in future Aegis test events to demonstrate that their stereo track accuracy is sufficient to enable a successful Aegis launch on remote intercept of a target missile.

"The launch on remote capability is a force multiplier for the Ballistic Missile Defense System," Young said. "Giving Aegis the ability to launch an interceptor against a target before it comes into its field of view permits earlier intercepts and significantly increases its defendable area. Working closely with the Missile Defense Agency, we continue to push the operational envelope of the STSS Demonstration satellites to help define the requirements of a next-generation missile surveillance and tracking satellite constellation."

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STSS Box Score

Summary of the STSS Demonstration program satellites' on-orbit performance

June 2010

Ground-Based Interceptor test launch – 6/6/2010

  • First STSS Object Sighting Messages (OSM) of a missile
  • First on-board missile track formed

ICBM Minuteman III test launch – 6/16/2010

  • First dual satellite collect of target, and
  • First target acquisition from a target launched beyond the horizon

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system test – 6/28/2010

  • First OSMs sent to Enterprise Sensors Laboratory at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., for data fusion with other sensors in real time
  • First track of a dim theater missile

July 2010

First track of a resident space object – 7/19/2010

  • Tracked a NOAA weather satellite 7/19/2010 for several minutes (externally queued)

First autonomous acquisition sensor to track sensor handover of a target – 7/23/2010

  • Hand-off demonstration occurred when STSS acquired a ground laser source operated by U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory from the Starfire Optical Range at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM

August 2010

First track of an aircraft

  • Precision track sensor operation below the horizon during daylight – 8/5/2010
  • First autonomous acquisition sensor to track sensor handover of an aircraft

September 2010

Airborne Laser Test Bed Exercise – 9/1/2010

  • First autonomous acquisition sensor to track sensor handover of a boosted target

ICBM Minuteman III test launch – 9/17/2010

  • First post boost track continuation of a target with track sensor
  • First demonstration of track sensor generating multiple tracks for separating objects

October 2010

Aegis Launch on Remote Campaign

  • First Track sensor stereo track of a dim boosted target
  • First stereo post boost tracking of midcourse target

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Approved for Public Release

10-MDA-5913 (06 DEC 10)

  CONTACT:  Bob Bishop
          Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems
          Office: 310.812.5227
          Cell: 310.251.0261