L3Harris Technologies has completed critical design review (CDR) of the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) prototype.

The completion marks a major final design milestone on the HBTSS programme’s Phase IIb On-orbit Prototype Demonstration.

The CDR provides a technical basis to go ahead with the product development and testing, and ensures the satellite will be manufactured as per the expected performance, cost, and schedule requirements.

L3Harris Technologies is developing the prototype under contract with the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

In 2019, MDA awarded L3Harris, Northrop Grumman, Leidos, and Raytheon Technologies a study contract as the initial phase in the HBTSS development programme.

The companies were awarded contracts by MDA in December later that year for the HBTSS programme’s second phase.

L3Harris Space & Airborne Systems president Ed Zoiss said: “L3Harris is moving quickly, in collaboration with our customer, to provide prototype HBTSS satellites that demonstrate the sensitivity and fire control quality of service necessary to support the hypersonic kill chain.

“Recent events with China and Russia increase the urgency to counter hypersonics and advanced manoeuvring threats.”

Earlier this year, MDA awarded L3Harris the prototype demonstration.

L3Harris noted that it has already started building the demonstration satellite.

HBTSS is one of the many planned systems within the US DoD’s advanced proliferated low-Earth orbit space architecture.

The programme seeks to showcase the capability to identify and track traditional and evolving missile threats using infrared sensors, besides advanced processing capability.

In December last year, the Space Development Agency chose L3Harris to develop and launch four space vehicles to prove the capability to identify and track hypersonic and ballistic missiles.