USAF launches last DSP (EARLY WARNING) satellite
By Ken Warren, 45th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 13, 2007
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- The U.S. Air Force successfully launched the 23rd and last Defense Support Program satellite on a United Launch Alliance-built Delta IV-Heavy Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle from Space Launch Complex 37B Nov. 10 here.
For almost four decades, DSP satellites have provided early warning for Intercontinental Ballistic Missile launches. DSP satellites use infrared sensors to detect heat from missile and booster plumes against the Earth's background.
"DSP is a vital national resource that has provided nearly 40 years of unblinking warning in support of our national defense beginning with the first DSP launch in 1970," said Brig. Gen. Susan Helms, 45th Space Wing commander. "While DSP-23 is the last in an illustrious line of missile warning satellites, the DSP satellites will continue to provide many years of national defense support as part of the follow-on Space Based Infrared System constellation. DSP will be part of a blended constellation including the SBIRS highly elliptical orbit and geosynchronous orbit satellites."
Saturday's launch also marked the first time a Delta IV-Heavy was used to put an operational satellite into orbit. "This success highlights the continued maturization of our EELV program," said General Helms. "It is a tribute to our joint government/industry launch team."
The first Delta IV-Heavy EELV was launched Dec. 21, 2004, on a demonstration mission. Saturday's launch marked the fifth major space launch on the U.S. Air Force's Eastern Range in less than 50 days, starting with the launch of a Delta II booster carrying a NASA probe to study asteroids on Sept. 27, 2007.