Northrop Grumman has selected Airbus US Space & Defence as a satellite platform supplier for the proliferated low-Earth orbit (LEO) Tranche 1 Transport Layer (T1TL) prototype constellation.

The T1TL network is the US Space Development Agency’s (SDA) effort to provide assured, resilient, low-latency connectivity and data to the US military.

It will serve as the backbone of the National Defence Space Architecture and a critical element for the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2).

Under the latest contract, Airbus will provide 42 satellite ‘bus’ platforms to Northrop Grumman.

Additionally, the agreement includes assembly, integration, and test (AIT), launch and space vehicle commissioning support services.

Airbus’ solution for the T1TL network is derived from the flight-proven ARROW platform that expands on the company’s commoditised satellite bus design.

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According to Airbus, the modular solution will provide a larger payload accommodation, more power and a scalable 300kg to 500kg bus for Northrop Grumman’s payload.

Besides, Airbus will use Airbus OneWeb Satellites (AOS), a joint venture of Airbus US and OneWeb in Merritt Island, Florida, to assemble the spacecraft platform at their production line.

Airbus US Space and Defense CEO and president Rob Geckle said: “This award underscores Airbus US’ mission to develop and deliver, in the US, technology critical to the US warfighter.”

In March this year, SDA selected Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin Space and York Space Systems to each provide 42 satellites to support the T1TL development.

Northrop Grumman communication and strategic space systems vice-president Blake Bullock said: “The addition of Airbus US as one of our key commercial suppliers complements our end-to-end satellite system integration and heritage communication mission expertise.”

Recently, Northrop Grumman selected Mynaric and Innoflight to supply laser communications, and encryption and decryption capabilities for the T1TL constellation.