Space Tracking and Surveillance System
|Mission type||Tracking and Surveillance|
|Operator||U.S. Missile Defense Agency|
|COSPAR ID||2009-052A / 2009-052B |
|SATCAT no.||35937 / 35938|
|Mission duration||2 years (planned)|
|Spacecraft type||STSS demonstrator satellite|
|Manufacturer||Northrop Grumman Space Technology|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||25 September 2009,|
|Rocket||Delta II 7920-10C|
|Launch site||Cape Canaveral, LC-17B|
|Contractor||United Launch Alliance|
|Entered service||Late January 2010|
|Reference system||Geocentric orbit |
|Regime||Low Earth orbit|
|Altitude||1,350 km (840 mi)|
The United States Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has developed a Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) (formerly SBIRS-Low) which was used to research the space-based detection and tracking of ballistic missiles. Data from STSS satellites could allow interceptors to engage incoming missiles earlier in flight than would be possible with other missile detection systems. The STSS program began in 2001, when the "SBIRS Low" program was transferred to MDA from the United States Air Force. In December 2002, SBIRS Low Research & Development (SBIRS Low R&D) was renamed Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS).
Two demonstration satellites were launched together on a single Delta II launch vehicle. Launch took place 25 September 2009, from Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex 17 (LC-17B). STSS constellation consists of two satellites orbiting at 1350 km, 58.0° inclination, with 120 minute period.
The perceived advantage of STSS is that its satellites, by operating at a lower altitude and by using long- and short-wave infrared sensors, will be able to acquire and track missiles in midcourse and during the boost phase.
The role of STSS
STSS is designed to be the low Earth orbiter (LEO) within the layered Ballistic Missile Defense System. It complements the geosynchronous Defense Support Program, the Space-Based Infrared System, and other overhead non-imaging infrared (ONIR) systems  and provides tracking cues to systems on the surface. The STSS program is developed in phases, the first of which is the launch of two demonstrator satellites. The demonstrators will perform experiments and prove out systems and processes to establish a knowledge base for future operational designs. The demonstration satellites, built by Northrop Grumman Space Technology (spacecraft) and Raytheon Technologies (sensors) detected and tracked a two-stage Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) during a U.S. Missile Defense Agency flight test on 6 June 2010.
According to Congressional testimony, military officials believe that STSS has the potential to bolster the nation's missile defense system. "Two recent flight tests demonstrated that STSS dramatically improved the precision of threat missile attacks and provided more accurate fire control quality data to the Aegis ships several minutes earlier than less accurate data provided by organic radars in the Aegis or THAAD (Theater High Altitude Area Defense) systems", U.S. Army Lt. General Patrick J. O'Reilly, Director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, told the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee's Defense subcommittee in prepared testimony on 25 May 2011.
Timeline of STSS missile tracking tests
- 6 June 2010 at 22:25 UTC
First STSS Object Sighting Messages (OSM) of a missile
First on-board missile track formed.
- 16 June 2010 at 10:01 UTC
ICBM Minuteman III test launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base
Pre-determined target launched of Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site at Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands
Data transmitted at Missile Defense Integration and Operations Center (MDIOC) at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.
First dual satellite collect of target, and
First target acquisition from a target launched beyond the horizon.
- 29 June 2010 at 07:32 UTC
First OSMs sent to Enterprise Sensors Laboratory at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, for data fusion with other sensors in real time
First track of a dim theater missile.
- 19 July 2010
First track of a resident space object.
Tracked a NOAA weather satellite on 19 July 2010 for several minutes (externally queued)
- 23 July 2010
First autonomous acquisition sensor to track sensor handover of a target.
- 5 August 2010
First track of an aircraft
Precision track sensor operation below the horizon during daylight
First autonomous acquisition sensor to track sensor handover of an aircraft
- 1 September 2010
Airborne Laser Test Bed Exercise
First autonomous acquisition sensor to track sensor handover of a boosted target
- 17 September 2020 at 10:02 UTC
ICBM Minuteman III test launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base to Island of Guam (8500 km).
First post boost track continuation of a target with track sensor
First demonstration of track sensor generating multiple tracks for separating objects.
- 5 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.
- 9 March 2011
Second Aegis Readiness Assessment Vehicle Targeting
STSS satellites acquired and tracked its target until re-entry
- 15 March 2011
Second full-course tracking during U.S. Missile Defense Agency's (MDA) Aegis launch
Successful production of "stereo" 3-D tracking software to follow the target missile's flight path to predict its impact point.
- 15 April 2011
Sea-based missile defense test
STSS satellites target and help to intercept an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM); destruction of the IRBM on impact.
- 8 July 2011
STSS test on short-range air-launched target (SRALT)
This test proved the STSS's ability to track dim objects that have extremely short flight timelines.
- Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System
- Defense Support Program
- Ground-Based Midcourse Defense
- USA 205
- "Display: STSS Demo-1 2009-052A". NASA. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 25 December 2020. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- "Display: STSS Demo-2 2009-052B". NASA. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 25 December 2020. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- "MDA Documents" (PDF). MDA. 27 March 2017. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- "MDA Link - Sensors". MDA. Archived from the original on 23 March 2008. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- "Fact Sheet on Space Based Infrared System". Center for Defense Information. 2007. Archived from the original on 13 November 2007. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS)". Global Security. Retrieved 25 December 2020.
- "STSS's Demo Program Space Vehicle Two Ships to Canaveral". ASD Network. 4 May 2009.
- "Space Tracking Surveillance System's Demonstration Program Ships Second Satellite to Cape Canaveral" (PDF). Missile Defense Agency. 7 July 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 July 2009. Retrieved 21 August 2009. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- "Fact Sheet - Space Tracking and Surveillance System" (PDF). MDA. 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 January 2009. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- "Delta II NASA Launch for Missile Defense Agency Successful". NASA KSC. 25 September 2009. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- "Object from sky most likely a dead satellite".
- "На Монголию упали два НЛО. ФОТО".
- "Pieces of 09052C landed in Mongolia".
- "Fact Sheets - Space Based Infrared Systems". USAF. Archived from the original on 2 July 2007. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Office of Secretary of Defense (Mar 2005) "Report to the Defense and Intelligence Committees of the Congress of the United States on the Status of the Space-Based Infrared System Program" This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- ONIR systems
- "The Missile Defense Agency's Space Tracking and Surveillance System". Aerospace Corporation.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 December 2011. Retrieved 18 August 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Northrop Grumman-Built STSS Demonstration Satellites Show 'Force Multiplier' Capability in Aegis Campaign Test". Northrop Grumman. Globe Newswire.
- "Northrop Grumman-Built STSS Demonstrators Prove They Can Track Ballistic Missiles From 'Birth-to-Death'". Northrop Grumman. Globe Newswire.
- "STSS Demonstration Satellites, Built by Northrop Grumman, Show New 'Remote Cueing' Capabilities During Aegis Test". Northrop Grumman. Globe Newswire.
- "STSS Demonstrator Satellites, Built by Northrop Grumman, Track Short-Range, Air-Launched Rocket in Missile Defense Test". Northrop Grumman. Globe Newswire.