On Schedule for Prototype Delivery in 2023
Northrop Grumman recently completed the critical design review (CDR) of the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) prototype for the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA), the company announced on 10 November. The review establishes the company’s technical approach for precise, timely sensor coverage to defeat ballistic and hypersonic missiles.
HBTSS satellites will provide continuous tracking and handoff to enable targeting of enemy missiles launched from land, sea or air. They are a critical part of the Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) multi-layered constellation of satellites, which can sense heat signatures to detect and track missiles from their earliest stages of launch through interception.
“When it comes to national safety, there’s no room for error,” explained Sarah Willoughby, VP, OPIR and Geospatial Systems. “This critical design review puts Northrop Grumman on track to deliver a vital component of our missile defense architecture to keep the US and its allies safe against hypersonic threats.”
HBTSS satellites are also designed to track threats with near-global reach when prompted by other OPIR systems, well before they come into view of US ground-based defences.
Northrop Grumman received a $153 million contract from the MDA earlier this year for the Phase IIB portion of the HBTSS programme, and is on schedule to deliver the prototype in 2023, following which, the company will conduct an on-orbit test to demonstrate its ability to continuously track and rapidly process its observations of hypersonic threats, as well as its ability to effectively hand off the information so the missile is intercepted.