The Space Development Agency awarded Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin contracts to each build 36 satellites to carry data in space, as part of plans to build a mesh communications network in low-earth orbit.
The total value of the combined contracts is $1. 5 billion, with Northrop’s contract valued at $733 million and Lockheed Martin’s worth $816 million. The so-called “Tranche 2 Transport Layer” is part of a multi-step plan to link future missile tracking satellites with communications satellites in space to enable the military to quickly respond to future highly-maneuverable hypersonic weapons, in addition to improving speed of satellite communications through space-based optical lasers.
The satellites “will provide global communications access and deliver persistent global encrypted connectivity to support missions like beyond-line-of-sight targeting and missile warning and missile tracking of advance missile threats,” SDA said in a statement on Monday.
They’ll be launched into orbital planes of 12, with the first dozen scheduled to launch in 2026.
“The Transport Layer will be the space backbone for the Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) infrastructure with low-latency data transport, sensor-to-shooter connectivity, and tactical satellite communication (TACSATCOM) direct to platform,” according to SDA.
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