SDA Planning To Procure 72 Satellites for LEO Constellation

216-satellite LEO constellation will have a navigation payload

U.S. Space Force agency is planning to procure 72 satellites for a low Earth orbit military constellation that will have a navigation payload. The Space Development Agency, in a draft solicitation, seeks input by March 1 on its Draft Tranche 2 Transport Layer – Beta Program.

“T2TL features multiple space vehicle and mission configuration variants procured through a multi-solicitation and multi-vendor acquisition approach,” the solicitation said.

The initial 72 satellites and ground support systems will be part of a 216-satellite Tranche 2 Transport Layer.  The constellation will move data to global users, including early missile warning, according to reports.

Lockheed Martin LMT 0.69%↑ and York Space Systems were awarded a contract in July 2020 to build a set of 10 satellites for the Tranche 0 Transport Layer satellites.  SDA awarded SpaceX and L3Harris LHX -0.49%↓ contracts to build four satellites for the agency’s Tracking Layer Tranche 0 designed to detect ballistic, cruise and hypersonic missiles.

There will be 128 satellites in Tranche 1—28 birds in the Tracking Layer and 18 experimental satellites.  Last year, SDA awarded $1.8 billion in contracts today to York Space Systems, Northrop Grumman NOC -0.27%↓ and Lockheed Martin for development of the Transport Layer satellites.  The agency also awarded L3 Harris and Northrop Grumman contracts to build 14 Tracking Layer satellites.

In other satellite news, Thales Alenia Space has signed a contract with the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) to provide electric propulsion for incorporation on their GEO-KOMPSAT-3 (GK3) satellite. Scheduled for launch in 2027, GEO-KOMPSAT-3 will feature a Data Collection System (DCS) mission and a Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) mission for satellite navigation augmentation service.


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