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Northrop Grumman-Built Defense Support Program Flight 23 Satellite Successfully Launched

The Delta 4 stacks in on for the heavy launches.
by Staff Writers
Redondo Beach CA (SPX) Nov 12, 2007
The final Defense Support Program (DSP) satellite thundered into the night sky from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Nov. 10 at 8:50 p.m. EST, and successfully separated from the Delta IV-Heavy launch vehicle six hours and 20 minutes later. DSP was built by Northrop Grumman Corporation for the United States Air Force Space and Missile System Center.

The launch of DSP 23 extends the service of a satellite constellation that has been the nation's eyes in the sky for nearly four decades, providing warnings of tactical and strategic missile launches, nuclear detonations, and other technical intelligence.

DSP satellites have operated four times beyond their specified design lives on average, and Flight 23 is expected to serve well into the next decade.

"The launch marks the beginning of Flight 23's operational service," said Alexis Livanos, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector.

"This satellite is the latest in a long series of DSPs that have served the nation well due to their extraordinary reliability and long life. The Northrop Grumman capabilities that have protected the continuity of essential national assets will ensure that the DSP mission continues well into the next decade and will provide the government with the same high confidence for emerging geosynchronous satellite systems."

The first DSP was launched in 1970 and became operational during the Cold War, monitoring Soviet and Chinese intercontinental ballistic missiles and Soviet short-range, submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Upgrades and improvements to the spacecraft, sensor and ground data processing system enabled DSP to adapt to monitor new threats, such as tactical ballistic missiles.

"The success of this launch today is due to the thousands of people who have worked so hard on this program," said Lt. Col. Joe Coniglio, DSP program manager for the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Center. "We are standing on the shoulders of giants and thank the entire team for getting us to mission success."

DSP satellites set a high standard for performance. The satellite's longevity has provided an extra 162 satellite-years on-orbit to date, the equivalent of delivering 30 to 50 additional satellites (without the cost of the launch).

The DSP team includes the Air Force Space and Missile Center, Northrop Grumman, Aerospace Corporation, Sandia and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories.

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