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Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) are currently tested with Airborne Infrared (ABIR) sensors – performing persistent, forward pickets to spot hostile missile launches and track them through their flight trajectory. These missions will soon evolve as RPAs become operational, and augment existing radar and space-based sensors, providing midcourse tracking and target discrimination, to help targeting ground and ship-based missile defense interceptors. In the next phase MDA will equip even larger unmanned platforms with high-power laser systems, to perform boost-phase intercept. The agency plans to demonstrate such systems in 2021.
The first pair of Space Tracking and Surveillance System demonstration (STSS-Demo) satellites were launched September 25, 2009 on a NASA Delta II rocket from...