The Missile Defense Agency supported by the US Air Force Space and Missile Systems Centre, Missile Defense Systems Group and Nasa have successfully launched two space tracking and surveillance system (STSS) demonstrator satellites.

The STSS forms a part of the MDA’s space-based sensor layer to detect missile launches, provide continuous target tracking and pass accurate track data to missile defence interceptors in time to enable successful target interception.

The satellites will use on-board infrared sensors to detect, track and discriminate between ballistic missiles throughout their trajectories for the layered ballistic missile defence system (BMDS).

The STSS will communicate with the BMDS through the Missile Defence Space Experimentation Centre and connect to the BMDS command, control battle management and communications (C2BMC) system.

The demonstrators will contribute to the BMDS testbed, which will assess STSS system capabilities and its ability to operate in concert with other components of the multilayered missile defence architecture.

The satellites were launched in tandem atop a Delta II 7920-10 launch vehicle into a low-Earth orbit.