L3Harris Technologies and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) have won contracts for the US Space Development Agency (SDA) Tracking Layer Tranche 0, Wide Field of View (WFOV) programme.
The set of contracts marks the next steps forward in developing the National Defense Space Architecture’s (NDSA) inaugural tranche called Tranche 0.
The combined value of the firm-fixed-price contracts is over $342m. SpaceX’s share is $149.17m and L3Harris’ share is $193.59m.
Both companies will have to construct four overhead persistent infrared imaging (OPIR) satellites to track the layer of the NDSA.
As per the contracts, they should be ready by the end of 2022.
Space Development Agency director Derek Tournear said: “The satellites will be able to provide missile tracking data for hypersonic glide vehicles and the next generation of advanced missile threats.”
The satellites will be constructed to meet the design criteria of SDA. They should be capable of directly communicating with the transport layer satellites using laser communications link.
Last month, SDA awarded contracts for the transport layer satellites to Lockheed Martin and York Space Systems. Both companies will construct ten satellites each.
Tournear stated that the contracts for tracking and transport layers are part of Tranche 0, which includes 28 transport layer satellites and eight tracking layer satellites.
Tournear added: “The transport satellites are the backbone of the National Defense Space Architecture.
“They take data from multiple tracking systems, fuse those, and are able to calculate a fire control solution, and then the transport satellites will be able to send those data down directly to a weapons platform via a tactical data link, or some other means.”
“With Tranche 0 in 2022, we will provide enough capability to where people can start to experiment with what those data could do and figure out how they could put that into their operational plans for battle.”
Tranche 1 includes couple hundred satellites in the transport layer and is due in 2024.
Last month, the US Department of Defense (DoD) and Nasa signed a memorandum of understanding that broadens their collaboration in space.