Vandenberg AFB CA (AFNS) May 07, 2009
Teams from the 30th Space Wing and various agencies successfully launched a Delta II rocket from Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex-2 at 1:24 p.m May 5.
The rocket carried an experimental satellite for the Missile Defense Agency's Space Tracking and Surveillance System Advanced Technology Risk Reduction mission.
At approximately one hour after liftoff, with confirmation of the payload's delivery into low Earth orbit, the launch was pronounced a success.
Col. Steve Winters, the 30th SW vice commander, was the launch decision authority for this mission.
"It's incredibly satisfying knowing the work you're doing is crucial to national defense," Colonel Winters said. "I'm very proud of our Airmen and mission partners for all the hard work they have put into this important mission."
The STSS ATRR serves as a technology pathfinder for the STSS mission, which is a space-based sensor component of a layered Ballistic Missile Defense System.
To carry out this mission, range operators from the 2nd Range Operations Squadron here worked hand in hand with mission partners from the MDA, NASA and the United Launch Alliance.
"We started preparing for this mission about six months ago," said Capt. Barbara King, the mission range operations commander. "It's great to see how far we've come in that time, especially in the past month when range preparation and rehearsals really picked up."
Western Range operators here are a key part of every launch from Vandenberg. They work to ensure safe and successful West Coast launch operations.
The satellite was launched aboard a Delta II 7920-10 launch vehicle. MDA, the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Center Space Development and Test Wing, and NASA have overall mission management responsibility.
STSS ATRR is a small experimental satellite that serves as a pathfinder for next-generation sensor technology for future MDA space missions. The program takes multiple approaches to reduce overall risk to the layered Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) through sensor testing, launch and space vehicle integration, resource protection and security planning, and launch site processing.
MDA is pursuing a space-based sensor layer to detect missile launches, provide continuous target tracking, and pass track data to missile defense interceptors with the accuracy and timeliness necessary to enable successful target interception. Two developmental STSS demonstration satellites will also be launched aboard a single launch vehicle late this summer from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
The BMDS space sensor layer will provide combatant commanders with the ability to continuously track strategic and tactical ballistic missiles from launch through termination. Early launch detection and continuous midcourse tracking of target missiles will significantly improve the engagement time and effective defended area of the BMDS.
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Vandenberg AFB CA (SPX) May 01, 2009
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