Local firm's inventions could bolster missile defense shield

Space Micro based in Mira Mesa

SAN DIEGO - On the same day North Korea threatened to launch a nuclear attack against the U.S., 10News has learned a San Diego company is developing new technology designed to bolster a missile defense shield.

During a test off Hawaii in February, the U.S. Navy successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target-launched as part of the test.

In video released by the Navy, minutes after the enemy missile is launched, the interceptor missile collides with the enemy missile, destroying it.        

While North Korea is not believed to have long-range nuclear capabilities, tests for a missile defense shield fly forward, and a tiny microwave chip may be a key part of making sure it works.

After more than $8 million in federal funds, Mira Mesa-based Space Micro has unveiled several breakthroughs. The company currently employs about 50 people.

The firm's radio system containing the tiny microwave chips that can be attached to the interceptor missile, helping to receive and send orientation and other data, including visual images from an onboard camera.

"It does enhance the reliability that the missile will hit the target," said Michael Jacox, vice president of engineering at Space Micro.

The radio system can talk to satellites, helping lock down the enemy missile's thermal signature.

One module, another of the company's creations, helps direct the interceptor's thrusters to zero in on the target.       

The inventions are past critical tests, and the company believes the devices will be attached to the interceptor missiles when the defense shield goes up.

"Events like today make you realize a missile defense shield is past due," said Jacox.

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