US Space Force’s missile warning passes critical design review


The US Space Force and Lockheed Martin have completed the system level critical design review for the USA’s new space-based missile warning system.

The Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (NGG) program features improved warning capabilities as well as enhanced resiliency and cybersecurity. The US Department of Defense has labelled the program a “Go Fast” acquisition program and the first  NGG satellite launch is planned for 2025.

NGG will provide early warning for the defensive “kill chain” that protects the USA and its armed forces from missile threats.

“Our adversaries are finding ways to make missile warning more difficult. They are also posing threats to space assets themselves,” said Joseph Rickers, Lockheed Martin vice president and program manager for NGG . “NGG was specifically designed as a Go Fast program to maintain and grow our nation’s advanced technology edge ahead of the threat.”

The NGG Block 0 program held the system level critical design review (CDR) at the end of last month  as planned. The CDR specifically addressed the integration between the space and ground segments in addition to the integration of the Next Generation Interim Operations Ground System with the legacy Missile Warning system, enabling the enhanced missile warning capabilities following launch.

The NGG will consist of three satellites which will use advanced infrared sensors that can detect dimmer and faster targets. Lockheed Martin is the program’s prime contractor

The system level CDR is the latest milestone the program has met since the 2018 contract award. Earlier this year, NGG completed CDRs for two mission payloads being competitively developed by subcontractor teams Raytheon and a Northrop Grumman/Ball team.

One of the two mission payloads will each fly on the first two NGG space vehicles. The team completed a separate space vehicle CDR, which aggregated numerous subsystem and payload reviews, and locked in the satellite’s technical baseline.

“A space program of this size, which includes developing two entirely new missile warning payloads, has never moved this fast,” added Rickers. “The program is on schedule due to using proven technologies and risk mitigation tools like subsystem prototypes for early design verification and interface integration to ensure we remain on track.”

Lockheed Martin said it is using digital engineering capabilities including digital twin, artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, along with augmented reality to speed production, integration and test and enabling the rapid transition to operations.

NGG is also being built on Lockheed Martin’s LM 2100 Combat Bus platform. According to Lockheed the space vehicle provides enhanced power, propulsion and electronics, as well as common components and procedures to streamline manufacturing.

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About Author


Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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