[SatNews] A Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) Demonstration program satellite showed an increased set of capabilities when it detected and tracked a resident space object — another satellite — on July 19th.
The missile defense satellite is one of two STSS spacecraft built by Northrop Grumman Corporation and Raytheon Company. The STSS Demonstration program accomplished another first by tracking a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather satellite for several minutes using multiple track sensor bands, according to Gabe Watson, vice president of missile defense and missile warning programs for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. Payload sensors on the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's (MDA) STSS satellite look both below the horizon, with Earth in the background behind the tracked target, and above the horizon, with space in the background behind the target. This allows precision tracking of ballistic missiles through all phases of flight, commonly referred to as "birth-to-death tracking." The MDA is pursuing the STSS Demonstration program as a space-based sensor component of the Ballistic Missile Defense System. The STSS satellites will provide missile defense sensor risk reduction concepts to support development and fielding of a future missile defense operational satellite constellation.