US Space Development Agency to Buy 54 Satellites to Track Missiles

The US Space Development Agency (SDA) has signed contracts with three companies to produce 54 satellites to track missiles globally.

L3Harris, Lockheed Martin, and Sierra Space will each develop 18 space vehicles for the SDA’s Tranche 2 Tracking Layer program, establishing missile warning and tracking and fire control-quality infrared sensors for missile defense.

The Tranche 2 Tracking Layer will be integrated with and build upon the SDA’s older layer systems, creating a 270-strong network of transport and tracking satellites.

The total potential value of the three contracts is $2.5 billion.

According to SDA, the 54 satellites will launch no later than April 2027 if a full defense budget is passed by the end of March.

“The agile response across the space industry is critically important as we deliver to the warfighter this no-fail mission capability of missile warning, missile tracking, and missile defense,” SDA director Derek Tournear said.

Securing Safety Above

All Tracking Layer vehicles will focus on detecting and tracking missiles operating at altitudes lower than 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles).

The constellation of satellites was set up in support of the SDA’s Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture to deliver space capabilities for US terrestrial missions.

Formerly known as the National Defense Space Architecture, the program began in 2020 after the SDA signed a $342 million deal with L3Harris, Space Exploration Technologies, and SpaceX to build overhead persistent infrared imaging satellites for the Tranche 0 program.

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