The US Space Development Agency (SDA) has awarded two prototype agreements, worth more than $1.3bn, for the Tranche 1 Tracking Layer (T1TRK).

The T1TRK aims to provide initial missile warning or tracking warfighting capability for the National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA).

The agreements have been awarded to a team led by L3Harris Technologies from Melbourne, Florida; and Northrop Grumman Strategic Space Systems from Redondo Beach, California.

The approximate value of the agreement awarded to Northrop Grumman is $617m while L3 Harris’ award has a potential value of $700m.

Each company will be responsible for building a space segment comprising of two planes with seven satellites per plane.

With each firm building 14 satellites, the overall T1TRK programme will involve the development of 28 space vehicles in four planes.

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These satellites will be deployed to collect infrared data and provide network communications.

Besides, the two agreements include a launch services segment for launch preparation and a ground segment for operations and sustainment of the satellites.

The launch of 28 satellites is expected to commence in April 2025. They will lift off from SDA’s Operations and Integration Centers at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota and Redstone Arsenal in Alabama.

The prototypes will provide indications, detection, warning, tracking and identification of conventional and advanced missiles and other hypersonic weapons.

SDA director Derek Tournear said: “SDA is confident that selection of L3 Harris and Northrop Grumman provides the best overall solution to accelerate delivery of an LEO constellation with wide-field-of-view infrared sensors for a global missile warning and missile tracking capability in T1, on schedule.”

Northop Grumman, along with York Space Systems and Lockheed Martin, was also selected for the SDA’s T1 Transport Layer programme.