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US launches two missile defence satellites

The Delta II rocket with the STSS-Demo spacecraft leaps from Launch Pad 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station amid clouds of smoke. Image Credit: NASA

FLORIDA (BNS): America has launched two experimental satellites aimed at tracking ballistic missiles for its Missile Defence Agency.

The two Space Tracking Surveillance System (STSS) satellites were launched aboard NASA-made Delta II rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station here on Friday, the US space agency said.

The satellites reached orbit in less than an hour.

“With confirmation of the payload's delivery into the correct orbit, the launch is a success,” Omar Baez, launch director for NASA's Launch Services Program headquartered at Kennedy Space Center, said in a statement.

Earlier, the launch was postponed by two days due to weather and technical problems.

The dual STSS satellites, sent on a technology demonstration mission, form part of the US Missile Defense Agency's layered Ballistic Mission Defense System. They have been designed to demonstrate the ability of tracking ballistic missiles in every stage of flight.

“The STSS DEMO mission is important to our nation's defense. Our team continues to work hard to ensure we are doing all we can to provide the support needed for such important missions to occur,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Edward L. Bolton Jr., the 45th Space Wing commander, was quoted as saying by

The 2,267-kg STSS satellites are equipped with a staring sensor similar to those fitted in other Air Force defence satellites. They also carry a multi-band infrared sensor to track missiles, the report said.

“At least two tests of the STSS system are planned using dedicated missile launches to check the satellites’ performance,” said quoting STSS programme officials. The systems might also play a role in two other tests with other defence systems like the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence system, reported.

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