The U.S. Space Development Agency is planning to deploy 144 transport layer satellites and 28 tracking satellites in low-Earth orbit (LEO) by 2024 to detect maneuverable hypersonic glide vehicles during flight.
Speaking today at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies’ Schriever Spacepower Forum, Derek Tournear said satellites in LEO will make up the tracking layer that will be able to detect hypersonic threats by their heat signatures, eventually on a global scale.
Satellites in LEO can detect those dim heat signatures better than satellites in higher orbits, he added. Also, if there are several satellites doing the tracking, getting a geometric fix on a hypersonic threat is much more precise.
The next step that would occur in near-real time is that the transport layer of satellites would then move data from the tracking satellites down to the shooter for a fire-control solution at the Joint All-Domain Command and Control, Tournear said.