Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 3: Space Vehicles
Copyright © 2024 Andreas Parsch

Ball Aerospace LS-15 SBSS

The SBSS (Space Based Space Surveillance) program was initiated by the U.S. Air Force to provide a space-based infrastructure to detect and track objects in Earth orbit. Industry prime contractor was Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, and a sub-contract for a "pathfinder" SBSS satellite (a.k.a. SBSS-1) was awarded in 2004 to team led by Boeing, with Ball Aerospace being responsible for the satellite itself and its payload. The original plan called for a launch in 2007, and after some delay caused by problems with the Minotaur IV booster rocket, the SBSS-1 satellite was put into orbit on 26 September 2010.

The SBSS satellite has received the MDS designation LS-15A. It is equipped with a 30 cm telescope mounted on a two-axis gimbal, and orbits the Earth in a 630 km (390 miles) sun-synchronous orbit.

Image: Boeing

Name Intl. Designation Launch Re-entry Notes
SBSS-12010-048A26-Sep-2010 Also known as USA-216

Launch dates of the SBSS series

Planned lifetime for the LS-15A was 7 years, but as of early 2024, it is still in active service. However, the majority of space-based space surveillance is currently handled by the GSSAP (Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program) satellites.

Main Sources

[1] Wikipedia: Space Based Space Surveillance
[2] Gunter Krebs: SBSS 1
[3] USSF: Space Based Space Surveillance

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 3

1 February 2024