The Missile Defense Agency’s Space Tracking and Surveillance System-Demonstrator program is a research and development capability for the Ballistic Missile Defense System that can detect and track ballistic missiles and other cold objects in space.
STSS-D consists of two satellites carrying sensor payloads in a low-Earth orbit. Raytheon developed the sensor payloads for the two STSS satellites under contract to Northrop Grumman, prime contractor for the STSS-D program. The STSS-D payloads are able to detect infrared and visible light.
The STSS-D spacecraft demonstrate the value of space-based sensors to missile defense. Since they were launched in 2009, the STSS-D sensor payloads have demonstrated the ability to:
- Detect missile launches and track targets from boost phase into midcourse
- Acquire and track short range air-launched targets
- Track multiple targets simultaneously
- Communicate with missile defense command and control systems
- Provide “launch on remote” cueing information to U.S. Navy ship defenses before the ship itself acquired the target