The MSTI program is performing the first on-orbit functional
demonstrations of low-cost integrated sensor technologies that
support theater missile launch detection and tracking. The MSTI program transitioned from BMDO
to the Air Force in 1994. The
program demonstrated for the first time that small spacecraft
can be placed on orbit for less than $50M within 12-24 months
from a decision to proceed.
Lessons learned through MSTI
research and development efforts will be applied to other
follow-on DOD and civilian systems like the ALARM (Alert,
Locate, and Report Missiles), SMTS (Space Missile Tracking
System), and EOSAT (Earth Observation Satellite) systems.
The first satellite in the MSTI series was launched into
a Sun synchronous polar orbit with an inclination of 97 degrees on 21 November 1992 from Vandenberg
AFB, California, on a NASA SCOUT booster. MSTI-1 succeeded in
meeting all primary mission objectives, surpassing the 6-day data
collection mission requirement. During the primary mission, the
payload, which consists of an infrared sensor assembly, mirror
and drive system, scanned the Earth to obtain background
information to evaluate target and background signature data for
future MSTI flights.
The spacecraft operated in its
400-km polar orbit until the spring of 1993 and collected well in
excess of 100,000 frames of background data in the medium
wave infrared wavebands. The camera imaged distinct land mass features on the
Baja California peninsula, various cloud cover patterns and has
detected the firing of a solid-rocket motor at the U.S. Air Force
Phillips Laboratory at California's Edwards Air Force Base. The
detection of the rocket firing was part of a demonstration to
test the feasibility of detecting and tracking missiles using
miniature sensors in space.
The MSTI satellite was an octagon structure 123
centimeters (48 inches) high, 97 centimeters (38 inches) in
diameter and weighs approximately 168 kilograms (370 pounds).
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Pasadena,
CA) built the MSTI-1 sensors for the Strategic Defense Initiative
Organization (SDIO) for $15 million. The MSTI-1 spacecraft weighed
just 150 kg and was built for $19M in less than 12 months. The
mission paved the way for the more sophisticated detection and
tracking payload on MSTI-2.
The second MSTI satellite, MSTI-2, was launched into LEO on
8 May 1994 aboard the last NASA SCOUT booster with a
6-month primary mission to demonstrate theater ballistic missile
(TBM) tracking. The 170-kg MSTI-2 was injected into a
355-km x 455-km polar orbit and then executed an orbit raise to
its final orbit--432-km circular, sun-synchronous, 97.13-degree
inclination. On 8 May, MSTI-2 successfully acquired and
tracked a Minuteman III launched from Vandenberg AFB. More
than 3 million short wavelength infrared (SWIR) and medium
wavelength infrared (MWIR) image frames were obtained
from MSTI-2, which reentered on March 20, 1995. Loral Electro-Optics Division (Pasadena, CA)
manufactured the MSTI-2 sensors.
On-board trackfile processing
technologies were demonstrated under the
BMDO-sponsored Navy Lightweight Exo-Atmospheric
Projectile (LEAP) interceptor technology demonstration
program. Under a cooperative effort with Talon Shield, target
observations from MSTI-2 operating at low altitude were
fused with Defense Support Program data to investigate
techniques to increase the accuracy of target trajectory estimates
over that which can be obtained separately from either spacecraft
MSTI-3 is the third, and most advanced, satellite developed by
the MSTI program to demonstrate more sophisticated
sensors and data gathering capabilities. MSTI-3 was scheduled to be
launched from Edwards AFB aboard a Pegasus Space Launch
Vehicle in the summer of 1995, and finally was launched from Edwards AFB aboard a
Pegasus on 16 May 1996.
MSTI-3 collects data in the short wave infrared
(SWIR) and medium wave infrared (MWIR) bands. MSTI-3
surveys the Earth collecting data to support analysis of ground
features, such as terrain and bodies of water, and atmospheric
features, such as clouds and aurora. This analysis will determine how
the appearance of these features in the infrared varies with season,
time of day, and aspect angle. This basic research supports the
design of infrared Earth observation satellites.
The primary mission of MSTI-3 is to
gather extensive MWIR background clutter statistics at sufficient
resolution to resolve whether tracking TBMs in the coast phase
against a warm earth background is achievable. This information
is necessary to proceed with both the SMTS
and SBIRS programs. In addition to providing the truth data,
the visible imaging spectrometer gatherd environmental data of
similar quality to the Land-Remote Sensing Satellite to support
environmental and ecological analysis.
Space and Missile
Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., manages the
MSTI-3 program. The Space Experiments Directorate of the Phillips
Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., implements the
program through its Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. and Hanscom
Air Force Base, Mass. offices.
The MSTI-3 satellite has three instruments: an SWIR camera,
an MWIR camera, and a visible wedge spectrometer camera. All of
the instruments share a single telescope. Each infrared camera has
seven filters. The visible wedge spectrometer camera provides
comparison data to verify observations made by the infrared
Phillips Laboratory, Spectrum Astro, Incorporated of Gilbert,
Ariz., and Wyle Laboratories of El Segundo, Calif. designed and
built the satellite bus. Science Applications International Corporation
of San Diego, Calif. designed and built the satellite payload. Phillips
Laboratory integrated and tested the bus and payload. The satellite
weighs 466 pounds, including fuel.
Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Va., launched
MSTI-3 on the air-launched Pegasus booster.
After flying from Vandenberg to a predetermined launch point
approximately 60 miles west of Morro Bay, California, a standard
Pegasus launch vehicle was released from the company's L-1011 carrier
aircraft at an altitude of 38,000 feet, dropped horizontally for five
seconds, and ignited. Approximately 8 minutes later, the rocket
deployed the MSTI-3 satellite into its proper 361 by 296 kilometer
orbit, inclined at 97 degrees. The MSTI-3 spacecraft performed
several orbit transfer maneuvers over the next several days to reach a
final circular orbit of 425 kilometers.
Detachment 2, Space and Missile Systems Center, Onizuka
Air Force Station, CA controls MSTI-3 through the Air Force
Satellite Control Network. Anser Corporation of Arlington, Va.,
performs mission planning and data processing at their Alexandria,
Va. facility. They also operate a downlink site near Fairbanks,
Alaska to receive the large amount of data produced by MSTI-3.
Maintained by Robert Sherman
Originally created by John Pike
Updated Friday, July 17, 1998 7:35:19 PM