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Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite

Artist rendering of a Defense Support Program (DSP) satellite in orbit. (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman)

Artist rendering of a Defense Support Program (DSP) satellite in orbit. (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman)

DAYTON, Ohio -- A structural test vehicle from the Defense Support Program (DSP) on display in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force's Missile & Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- A structural test vehicle from the Defense Support Program (DSP) on display in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force's Missile & Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- A structural test vehicle from the Defense Support Program (DSP) on display in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force's Missile & Space Gallery.  (U.S. Air Force Photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- A structural test vehicle from the Defense Support Program (DSP) on display in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force's Missile & Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

Photo of construction crane equipment.

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work with Schumacher Crane Rental to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of construction fork lift machine.

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of restoration crews moving a test satellite out of the missile gallery of the air force museum.

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of restoration crews moving a test satellite out of the missile gallery of the air force museum.

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of restoration crews moving a test satellite out of the missile gallery of the air force museum.

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work with Schumacher Crane Rental to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of restoration crews moving a test satellite out of the missile gallery of the air force museum.

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work with Schumacher Crane Rental to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of restoration crews moving a test satellite out of the missile gallery of the air force museum.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 10 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of restoration crews moving a test satellite out of the missile gallery of the air force museum.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 11 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work with Schumacher Crane Rental to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of restoration crews moving a test satellite out of the missile gallery of the air force museum.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 12 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work with Schumacher Crane Rental to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of restoration crews moving a test satellite out of the missile gallery of the air force museum.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 13 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work with Schumacher Crane Rental to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of restoration crews moving a test satellite out of the missile gallery of the air force museum.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 14 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work with Schumacher Crane Rental to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of construction moving equipment and a test satellite in the missile gallery of the air force museum.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 15 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work with Schumacher Crane Rental to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of restoration crews moving a test satellite out of the missile gallery of the air force museum.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 16 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work with Schumacher Crane Rental to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of restoration crews moving a test satellite out of the missile gallery of the air force museum.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 17 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work with Schumacher Crane Rental to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of restoration crews moving a test satellite out of the missile gallery of the air force museum.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 18 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of restoration crews moving a test satellite out of the missile gallery of the air force museum.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 19 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work with Schumacher Crane Rental to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of restoration crews moving a test satellite out of the missile gallery of the air force museum.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 20 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of construction moving equipment and a test satellite in the missile gallery of the air force museum.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 21 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of restoration crews moving a test satellite out of the missile gallery of the air force museum.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 22 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of construction moving equipment and a test satellite.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 23 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of construction moving equipment and a test satellite in the missile gallery of the air force museum.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 24 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of construction moving equipment and a test satellite.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 25 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of construction equipment and a test satellite.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 26 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work with Schumacher Crane Rental to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of construction moving equipment and a test satellite.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 27 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work with Schumacher Crane Rental to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of construction equipment and a test satellite.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 28 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work with Schumacher Crane Rental to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of construction equipment and a test satellite.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 29 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work with Schumacher Crane Rental to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of construction equipment and a test satellite.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 30 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work with Schumacher Crane Rental to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of construction equipment and a test satellite.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 31 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work with Schumacher Crane Rental to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of construction moving equipment and a test satellite.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 32 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of construction equipment and a test satellite.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 33 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of construction equipment and a test satellite.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 34 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of construction equipment and a test satellite.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 35 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of construction equipment.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 36 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Photo of construction fork lift machine.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 37 of 37

DAYTON, Ohio -- As part of the Space Gallery updates, museum restoration crews work to move the Northrop Grumman Defense Support Program Satellite(DSP) out of the Missile Gallery on Sept. 17, 2019.  Plans call for the DSP to be mounted to the Inertial Upper Stage vehicle(IUS) and placed on display in the Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Note: This satellite is currently off display and will be moved to the Space Gallery at a later date.

Early Warning Satellite

Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites have provided the U.S. Air Force with early warning of ballistic missile launches and nuclear detonations for more than 40 years. The DSP satellite’s infrared sensors detect heat from missile plumes against the Earth’s background. This structural test vehicle includes the silver cone-shaped infrared sensor without its associated electronics. Structural test vehicles are full-sized units used to verify that all the components fit together correctly.

The USAF developed DSP satellites in response to the growing threat from Soviet and Chinese nuclear ballistic missiles in the 1960s. The USAF launched 23 DSP satellites from 1970-2007.

DSP satellite design and capabilities improved over time. The first DSP vehicles weighed 2,000 pounds and carried 2,000 infrared detectors, while the last satellite was much heavier at 5,250 pounds with 6,000 detectors. Operating life for each satellite grew from just over a year to more than 12 years.

After the Cold War ended, DSP satellites demonstrated additional flexibility, detecting Iraqi Scud missile launches during Operation Desert Storm in 1990-1991. Scientists also have used DSP infrared sensors for early warning of natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions and forest fires.

The DSP structural test vehicle on display came to the museum from Northrop Grumman in August 2010.

TECHNICAL NOTES:
Orbit:
22,300 miles (geosynchronous)
Launch vehicles: Titan IIIC, Titan 34D, Titan IV, Titan IVB, Space Shuttle, Delta IV Heavy
Power: 1,275 watts from blue-colored solar panels

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