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Instrumentation for ballistic missile defense: lessons learned from the LEAP experiment

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1 Author(s)
K. R. Fowler ; Stimsoft Inc., Baltimore, MD, USA

Integrating instrumentation into complex systems demands careful planning, execution, and testing. Ballistic missile defense is a complex system with many distributed components: radar and imaging sensors, wireless and satellite communications, digital signal processing nodes, interceptor fire control, and command centers. The U.S. Navy has investigated the feasibility of missile defense through the light exo-atmospheric projectile (LEAP) experiment. This paper explains the lessons learned by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory from building, integrating, and testing instrumentation in the LEAP experiment and give insights for designing complex systems. The biggest challenge in the LEAP experiment involved people: communications between the large number of contractors and their understanding of the interactions between the various instruments. Other concerns included verifying software and system operation, robust data and satellite communications, time and coordinate conversions, and electromagnetic interference. LEAP demonstrated that complex systems, and missile defense system in particular, can only work through careful design, dedicated teamwork, clear and continuous communications, and extensive testing

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement  (Volume:47 ,  Issue: 5 )