The Space Force is moving fast to develop a new set of missile warning/tracking satellites in MEO. (Graphic: Raytheon Technologies)
MilSat Symposium 2023 — The Space Force’s primary acquisition command intends to award contracts in late 2024 or early 2025 for some 18 “Epoch 2” missile warning/tracking satellites in medium Earth orbit (MEO) to flesh out a constellation that can provide global coverage, according to a senior Space Systems Command (SSC) official.
The Resilient Missile Warning/Missile Tracking – MEO (MEO MW/MT) constellation is being developed under the spiral development model, with one set of satellites with “new capabilities being placed on orbit every two to three years,” Col. Heather Bogstie, senior materiel leader at SSC’s Resilient Missile Warning, Tracking and Defense (MWTD) acquisition delta, said on Thursday.
“We can’t wait for perfect technology to be delivered on orbit every 10 years,” she told an audience at the MilSat Symposium here in Mountain View, Calif.
SSC last year initiated the effort to operate satellites in MEO as part of the service’s overhaul for how it does missile warning and tracking — expanding from previous programs that focused on a handful of satellites in geosynchronous Earth orbit (some 36,000 kilometers in altitude) to a network of hundreds of satellites in multiple orbits. MEO lies between the upper edge of low Earth orbit at 2,000 kilometers above the Earth and geosynchronous orbit.
Each spiral of satellites under the MEO program are called Epochs. Epoch 1 is essence transitions the SSC’s 2021 study, first reported by Breaking Defense, to a program of record, with Raytheon Intelligence & Space and Boeing’s Millennium Space Systems contracted in January to build MEO MW/MT Epoch 1 prototypes. In June, SSC awarded a $29 million sensor payload design contract to L3Harris Technologies, positioning the company as the third vendor.
“Our first delivery is Epoch 1, launching at the end of…