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Northrop Grumman celebrates 50 years of Defense Support Program

Northrop Grumman, in collaboration with the Air Force Association’s Schriever Chapter #147, is sponsoring the 6th Annual Schriever Space Futures Forum, a live virtual event, which will include a celebration of 50 years of successful operations of the Defense Support Program (DSP).
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An artist’s rendering of the Defense Support Program (Picture source: Northrop Grumman)

The DSP system of satellites have been in operation since 1970 and helps protect the United States and its allies by detecting missile launches, space launches and nuclear detonations. Continuous spacecraft upgrades have allowed DSP to provide accurate, reliable warning data in the face of changing requirements with no interruption in service. DSP is the legacy program that invented the missile warning capabilities that the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) program builds upon, along with the resilient and nuclear survivable systems the U.S. and its allies depend on today.

“From its inception through today, DSP has remained a vital national security capability provided from space,” said John Daegele, vice president and general manager, strategic space systems, Northrop Grumman. “We continue to build on our more than 50 years of experience as a leading missile warning provider to help ensure our global security and freedom.”

Northrop Grumman continues to leverage the expertise gained from DSP by providing critical capabilities to its customers. The company was selected by the Space Force to design and develop two polar-orbiting space vehicles under the Next-Gen OPIR system. The company is also tasked with developing a payload design for the Next-Gen OPIR Geosynchronous program. The 50th anniversary of DSP also follows the 10th year of space operations for the company’s Space Tracking and Surveillance System satellites that work with DSP to provide critical support for missile and national defense.

The virtual event celebrating the 50th anniversary of DSP took place Nov. 20. The event featured appearances from leaders in the space industry including General John W. Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, United States Space Force; General John Earl Hyten, U.S. Air Force, 11th Vice Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff; leaders from industry; and members of the original DSP team.


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