The contracts, which are part of SDA's ambitious Tranche 2 Tracking Layer program, aim to deploy a network of 54 satellites in low Earth orbit at an altitude of 1,000 kilometers above the planet's surface.
The goal is to use infrared sensors capable of tracking hypersonic missiles at all stages of its flight.
According to the terms, each company must control the production and operation of 18 satellites. In addition, the requirements will include incentives for on-time delivery, reflecting the critical importance of achieving project milestones. L3Harris won a contract worth $919 million, Lockheed Martin won $890 million, and Sierra Space won $740 million.
Although, L3Harris and Lockheed Martin have previously participated in various collaborations related to other SDA components. However, Sierra Space, known for its Dream Chaser cargo delivery vehicle to the International Space Station, and SDA will enter into an initial contract to manufacture satellites for the US military; is known to build SDA satellites at its facilities in Colorado.
"We're pleased to welcome Sierra Space, a new entrant as a prime vendor on the SDA team, as we continue working with L3Harris and Lockheed Martin on Tranche 2," SDA director, Derek Tournear, said.
Lockheed Martin has announced that its Tranche 2 satellites will use Terran Orbital buses, and the missile's infrared trackers will be provided by General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems.
Sierra Space selected Geost (the military satellite sensor supplier) to provide 18 infrared payloads, including 16 Mercury payloads for missile warning and tracking, along with two Phoenix payloads for fire control.
The expected launch of 54 satellites in Tracking Layer Tranche 2 is scheduled for 2027. In the future, these satellites will form an important part of the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture, a multi-layered network developed by SDA that includes a transport layer of interconnected communications satellites that transmit data collected by tracking layer sensor satellites.
It is important to note that the purchase of new Tracking Layer satellites depends on the US Congress passing the defense budget for 2024.
Author: Nessa, Cyber Journalist
Photo: Joshua Woroniecki/Pixabay
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