The Space Development Agency awards SpaceX and L3Harris contracts to develop satellite constellations for missile-warning systems

Space launch missions continue to send several assets, including satellites, into the Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The space assets cost billions of dollars to develop and deploy, making them highly valuable to space companies and state government agencies. Most satellite constellations provide essential services, including navigation, Earth Observation, telecommunications, military defense, etc. Without satellites, most countries are incapable of carrying out their everyday routines in business, governance, and social life. For instance, most state governments rely on the United States’ satellites that support the Global Positioning System (GPS), a modern technology tool. Some of the top-ranking threats to satellite communications include hacking and hijacking. The impact of security threats costs a lot of investment in regaining control and removing the system’s viruses. The significance of space assets causes many nations and space corporations to develop robust strategies that heavily boost their cybersecurity. 

The Space Development Agency (SDA) recently awarded L3Harris and SpaceX contracts worth $193.5 million and $149 million, respectively. The considerable funding goes into developing a constellation of four satellites that will detect, monitor, and track ballistic rockets and hypersonic missiles. During the awarding ceremony of the contracts on October 5, officials announced that the first cluster of eight satellites is part of a massive constellation of satellites integrated with sensor technologies. The Space Development Agency dubbed the mega-constellations the Tracking Layer Tranche 0. The signing of the contracts for building space technologies commemorates the United States Military’s first-ever request to purchase satellites developed by SpaceX. A while ago, Elon Musk’s space organization commissioned a newly constructed production facility in Seattle to establish thousands of miniature satellites for SpaceX’s massive constellation of broadband satellites for the Starlink program. 

The Space Development Agency expects L3Harris and SpaceX to deliver the missile-warning satellites before September 2022. Derek Tournear, Space Development Agency’s Chief Supervisor, said that the satellites are part of a shipment for a rocket scheduled for an upcoming launch mission. Every satellite will incorporate an Overhead Persistent Infrared detector with a broad scope of view, capable of sensing and tracking Missile threats from Earth’s lower orbital paths. The satellites will use advanced warning capabilities to secure numerous space assets controlled by the United States. 

In conclusion, the state-of-the-art OPIR sensor technology can detect advance missiles that the predecessor satellites launched into orbit never identified. Derek Tournear said that the contract’s selection criteria included technical merits, level of operations, and the capabilities to deliver the missile-tracking satellites according to the agency’s schedule. The winners exceeded Derek’s expectations because SpaceX and L3Harris are big-name companies in the space industry. 

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