Remote Sensing Systems Directorate

The SMC Remote Sensing Systems Directorate (SMC/RS) manages the Air Force OPIR enterprise and the Department of Defense Space Based Environmental Monitoring Enterprise. 

The OPIR enterprise is comprised of two DoD programs, Defense Support Program (DSP), and Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS).  Development is aligned to the Space Warfighting Construct goal of a resilient space enterprise by 2030 and focused on integration with missile defense and intelligence community partners, commercial space, and U.S. allies.  The Air Force OPIR enterprise supports four mission areas; missile warning, missile defense, battlespace awareness, and technical intelligence.  SBIRS is the program of record (PoR) and delivers timely, reliable, and accurate missile warning and infrared surveillance information to the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, Combatant Commanders, the Intelligence Community, and other key decision makers. 

The SMC Remote Sensing Systems Directorate Weather Enterprise is comprised of five DoD programs: Weather System Follow-on (WSF), Electro-Optical Infrared (EO/IR) Weather System (EWS), EWS Geostationary (EWSG), Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), and Space Situational Awareness Environmental Monitoring (SSAEM).  These are systems of systems intended to meet Joint Staff SBEM requirements for integrating space-based weather observing capabilities that leverage existing ground assets. 

 RS contributes to the Department of Defense (DoD) mission to deter war and protect the security of the U.S. by providing timely and accurate missile warning/defense information. The RS Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) family of systems are critical for protection against global and theater ballistic missile attacks against the United States, allies, and combat forces.

RS supports planning and execution of aerospace, ground, and naval operations through its family of sensors, satellites, and ground stations used to detect, track, and report space and terrestrial weather in near real time. 

RS leverages its diverse infrared and weather systems to enhance Combatant Commanders' warfighting options and maximize application of mission area capabilities to combat operations around the world.   


The RS Directorate is responsible for the OPIR family of systems and the DoD Weather System.  OPIR programs include the Defense Support Program (DSP), the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS), SBIRS Follow-on, Wide Field of View (WFOV), and data exploitation initiatives.  Weather system programs include the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), Weather System Follow-on (WSF), numerous technical demonstrations, and large civil/international/commercial stakeholders and engagements. 

In support of the OPIR mission, DSP was first launched in 1970 and has provided early warning for Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) launches for 45 years.  A total of 23 DSPs built by prime contractor Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, formerly TRW, have launched beginning with the first in 1970 and the final DSP satellite in 2007.  Still operational, DSP satellites continue to serve as the backbone of the United States' ballistic missile early warning system.   

As the follow-on capability to the highly successful DSP, the SBIRS program consists of multiple Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites, Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO) sensors riding on Host satellites, and associated world-wide deployed ground systems. Lockheed Martin (LM) Space Systems Company is the prime contractor responsible for program management, systems engineering, and spacecraft development. LM Information Systems and Global Solutions is the ground systems developer and supports systems engineering. Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems is the infrared payload subcontractor and supports systems engineering and ground mission processing development.

In support of the DoD Weather System and what is now commonly referred to as Space-based Environmental Monitoring, the first DMSP satellite was launched in 1962 and is currently in its sixth decade of service as the sole DoD operational weather satellite system. It is the longest running production satellite program to date. Initially, DMSP was highly classified, run by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), in support of the CORONA program and its first reconnaissance satellites.  DMSP today provides strategic and tactical weather data to aid the U.S. military in planning operations at sea, on land, and in the air.  Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are the spacecraft and sensors prime contractors for DMSP, respectively. 


RS is part of the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA, and is home to, or supported by, more than 800 government, military, aerospace and contractor personnel at multiple locations in the United States supporting today's operational and future remote sensing systems.

(Current as of September 2018)


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