Launch Detection Satellite System Engineering Error Analysis Academic Article uri icon


  • An orbiting detector of infrared energy may be used to detect the rocket plumes generated by ballistic missiles during the powered segment of their trajectory. By measuring the angular directions of arrival of the detections over several observations, the trajectory properties, launch location, and impact area may be estimated using a nonlinear least-squares iteration procedure. Observations from two or more sensors may be combined to form stereoscopic lines of sight, increasing the accuracy of the algorithm. A computer model is presented of an estimation algorithm that determines what parameter, or combination of parameters, will have a significant effect on the error of the tactical parameter estimation. This model generates observation data and then, using the data, produces an estimate of the tactical parameters, i.e., the time, position, and heading at launch and burnout, and an impact time and position. For the expected range of values of each of the error sources, the line-of-sight errors, a combination of focal-plane and attitude errors, had the greatest effect on the estimation of the launch and impact points.

author list (cited authors)

  • Beaulieu, M. R., Alfriend, K. T., & Jerardi, T.

citation count

  • 3

publication date

  • July 1998