Distinguished Defense Support Program Satellite Retires From USSF

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Shaun Combs
  • Space Base Delta 2 Public Affairs

Members of Space Base Delta 2 and Space Delta 4 came together to recognize the career achievements of a Defense Support Program (DSP) satellite as it reached the end of its’ lifespan through a celebration at Buckley Space Force Base, Colo., March 2, 2023.

DSP satellites are a significant contributor of the United States’ Early Missile Warning and Tracking enterprise. These satellites help protect the United States and its allied partners by detecting, reporting, and maintaining custody of missile and space launches, as well as nuclear detonations.

“At its prime, DSP satellites highlighted the United States’ technological advantage on this foundational mission area as compared to our adversaries,” stated U.S. Space Force Col. Miguel Cruz, Space Delta 4 commander.

To begin its life, the DSP was satellite launched nearly 30 years ago, on a Titan-4 Launch Vehicle out of what is now Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.

“DSP satellites have made significant contributions various combatant commands, as well as to civil and intelligence organizations in various roles,” stated Cruz. “No other satellite in the DoD inventory can claim this level of involvement and impact to National Defense.”

The DSP constellation, in partnership with the more modern Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) constellation, both operated by Space Delta 4, provides Theater Missile Warning within the Theater Event System and Strategic Missile Warning through the Ballistic Missile Defense System. There has yet to be a conflict or named operation that this constellation has not supported since 1991, making Space Delta 4 the most trusted source of missile warning across all the combatant commands.  

The Space Delta 4 team, comprised of Guardians, Airmen, and civilians of all age ranges, alongside mission partners from the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, celebrated the retirement of the DSP satellite. Representatives of Industry, Space Operations Command, Space Systems Command, and the original engineering teams were also present.

“We are celebrating not only the contributions of a DSP satellite over its service life,” Cruz remarked. “We also celebrate all the men and women involved in this program for the past 53 years.”