The Northrop Grumman-built Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites have been the spaceborne segment of NORAD's Tactical Warning and Attack Assessment system since 1970.
Using infrared detectors that sense the heat from missile plumes against the earth background, these orbiting sentries detect, characterize and report ballistic missile launches; they also see nuclear detonations.
Continuous spacecraft upgrades have allowed DSP to provide accurate, reliable warning data in the face of changing requirements with no interruption in service. Planned evolutionary growth has improved satellite capability, survivability and life expectancy without major redesign. Power has increased to 1,275 W; communications links doubled, data rates expanded; hardness enhanced; redundancy added and single point failures eliminated. DSP satellites have exceeded their specified design lives by some 125 percent through five upgrades, proving the viability of evolutionary growth.
DSP meets the changing threats of a dynamic world within the realities of a shrinking defense budget. Northrop Grumman has coupled years of production and operational experience with timely management initiatives to reduce development, verification, test, and evaluation schedules and costs. We're providing the Air Force with five of the newest generation satellites for the price of four.