Rapid. Resilient. Ready. These are all features of a next-generation missile warning and tracking system. Through the Missile Track Custody program, the U.S. Space Force Space Systems Command (SSC) is defining an architecture driven by resiliency and speed, where schedule is paramount.
“The MTC program is a new paradigm for how we field missile defense capabilities,” said Lt. Col. Gary Goff, materiel leader for the Space Systems Command Space Sensing MTC program. “Delivering missile tracking satellites into medium earth orbit on an unprecedented timeline -- gets us the latest technology into our missile warning and tracking architecture as fast as possible.”
Following mission payload Critical Design Review (CDR) in November 2022, SSC and Millennium Space Systems completed the Preliminary Design Review in just four months. The team then completed the space vehicle CDR in under five months in October 2023.
MTC is now ready for production and integration.
“We’re working on a disruptively fast timeline, one that prioritizes quality and risk reduction,” said Lindsay Dewald, deputy program manager, Millennium Space Systems, MTC program. “Because we’re integrating our constellation into an existing missile defense infrastructure, it’s important to build confidence in our design and that’s just what we did at the CDR.”
How do you accelerate the timeline for a complex National Security Space Program? Fast forward the design cycle and take advantage of a core bus architecture.
Millennium Space Systems’ digital mission payload model enables much shorter design cycles, allowing quick trade-evaluations for potential block, or epoch, upgrades. Millennium’s digital payload design and on-board algorithms are highly extensible when performing tracking and missile warning.
“We incorporated digital engineering to streamline coordination, data products and analyses as the space vehicle design matured, which also helped to improve communication across the internal team, partners and customers,” said Doug Hulse, director, Sensing Portfolio, Millennium Space Systems. “Because our internal common core components make up the key parts of the space vehicle architecture, we have a deep understanding of the system – we know where to insert margins to accelerate decision-making.”
The team took advantage of the company’s decades of investments in their flight-proven ALTAIR bus heritage, furthering the program’s schedule and reducing risk through design re-use in hardware and software.
Following completion of the space vehicle CDR, SSC exercised contract options for space vehicles two and three and the sole-source award for space vehicles four through six.
“Space vehicle CDR was the gate to building the system,” said Hulse. “We’ve already launched into long-lead supply chain efforts and developed a high-fidelity test environment to reduce risk. Now we can go full steam ahead to integration and production.”
SSC and Millennium are demonstrating the ability to quickly design and deliver an advanced, flexible missile tracking constellation while maintaining cost and schedule. MTC is one element of Millennium’s and Boeing’s approach to supporting a robust national security space architecture, delivering resilient capabilities across all segments of national security space – from missile warning and tracking to tactically responsive space and protected satcom.
About Millennium Space Systems
Millennium Space Systems, a Boeing Company, is a small satellite prime, delivering high-performance constellation solutions for National Security Space. Founded in 2001, the company's active production lines and 80% vertical integration enable the rapid delivery of small satellites across missions and orbits – LEO, MEO and GEO. For more information, visit www.millennium-space.com.
Dana Carroll, Vice President of Marketing