Space Development Agency picks 3 vendors to build next layer of missile tracking satellites | Space

The Space Development Agency announced Tuesday that it has tapped L3Harris, Lockheed Martin and Sierra Space to build and operate 54 satellites able to track advanced missile threats, including six space vehicles able to produce data accurate enough to generate an intercept solution.

The satellites will make up Tranche 2 of the agency’s tracking layer, a planned constellation of spacecraft that will give warfighters global coverage of the Earth for missile warning, tracking and defeat missions.

Under the other-transaction prototype agreements — worth a combined $2.5 billion — each company will deliver 18 satellites scheduled to launch by April 2027, according to an SDA press release.

L3Harris’s contract is worth up to $919 million, Lockheed Martin’s is worth up to $890 million and Sierra Space’s is worth up to $740 million, per the release. The three companies beat out six other vendors that competed for the contract awards, an SDA official told reporters Tuesday.

The 54 satellites will be part of SDA’s Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture (PWSA), which is expected to include hundreds of space vehicles in low-Earth orbit that carry critical technologies for data transport and missile defense missions. The tracking layer — which will consist of approximately 100 satellites, the SDA official said — aims to provide continuous coverage of the Earth and will integrate with the meshed communication network provided by PWSA’s transport layer.

Each of the three companies tapped for the Tranche 2 tracking layer will build 18 satellites: 16 missile-warning/missile-tracking satellites equipped with infrared sensors, as well as two satellites carrying infrared sensors that offer a “preliminary” fire control-quality capability for missile defeat, the official said. 

While missile warning and tracking data helps warfighters identify potential threats, fire control-quality data includes more detailed information on a…

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