Auburn engineers to use successful MDA missile intercept data for development of future sensor-based research

Published: Dec 10, 2008 10:17:00 AM
Media Contact: Sally Credille,, 334.844.3447

Auburn University's Samuel Ginn College of Engineering is actively engaged in developing technologies similar to those demonstrated in Friday's flight test conducted by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). The Department of Defense agency announced last week that it successfully completed an exercise involving a ground-based interceptor missile. The long-range ballistic target was tracked using integrated command and control with several land- and sea-based radars, which are critical for tracking objects accurately in space. Auburn researchers are participating in the development of a myriad of related technologies, including sensor-based technology for aviation and avionics projects.

"Advanced tracking tools and sensors, some of which we are actively developing at Auburn, are critical for further testing and relevant to a variety of aerospace missions," says John Cochran, head of Auburn's Department of Aerospace Engineering. "The scientific complexity of combining software and hardware with multiple sensor integration shows the necessity of conducting coordinated efforts to test and remotely launch these types of devices."

The real-time attack, with a missile launched from Kodiak, Alaska, and interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., took only 25 minutes, from start to completion, and simulated real-life conditions of an operation to bring down a missile threat. A commercial airline flight across this distance would take approximately three hours.

The successful completion of this extremely complicated test mission involved automation, a remote launch and two missiles moving towards one another at hypersonic speeds. It is the agency's most complex test with the most realistic form of target.

"The test demonstrates the system's precise performance and validates and enhances the continuing development of precise targeting and tracking based on computerized command and control, as well as the integration of data collected from multiple, geographically dispersed sensors," says Ralph Zee, associate dean of research for the College of Engineering.

For information on aviation and avionics engineering research conducted at Auburn University visit