Since its inception in 2019, the Space Development Agency (SDA) has continually worked to develop and modernize architecture concepts, systems designs, innovative technologies and emerging capabilities to enable leaders across the space domain to leverage next-generation space capabilities that increase warfighters’ lethality, maneuverability and survivability.
During Potomac Officers Club’s 2021 SDA Forum, notable public and private sector leaders will unite to address the latest initiatives, efficiencies and challenges facing the nation, as we compete to maintain space superiority.
Gen. Lloyd Austin, defense secretary and an inductee into Executive Mosaic's Wash100 for 2021, recently reported that resilient space capabilities are essential to support other services. He National Defense Strategy revisions, regarding space.
“Since the NDS was developed, the recognition of the central role space plays in supporting other services in their warfighting role continues to grow… I will ensure the space domain is carefully considered across the range of upcoming strategic reviews,” Austin said.
Austin said that because the strategic environment, especially regarding space, is evolving rapidly, it would be advisable to consider policy shifts.
“For space in particular, I would account for the continued growth of adversary space and counterspace capabilities, as well as the adequacy of the steps the United States has taken to improve the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) space enterprise to address growing threats and challenges in the domain,” Austin added.
Additionally, the SDA has set BLOS targeting as one of the main capabilities it is pursuing for its new proliferated constellation in low Earth orbit, which will eventually be made up of hundreds of satellites.
“That’s where the Army is most affected and that’s where we’re working very closely with the Army to make sure that we’re tied together. So this is the ability to detect and track and maintain custody of anything, say, larger than a truck and to be able to actually give a targeting fire control solution to a weapon in the field in real time anywhere on the globe,” said SDA director, Derek Tournear, who is also a 2021 Wash100 Award recipient.
In the beginning of Jan. 2021, SDA issued an open call for information from the space industry on emerging technologies. The broad area announcement, published Jan. 25, has asked companies to submit pitches for space technology projects that the SDA might be interested in funding if they meet specific needs.
The SDA will acquire new technologies for its fleet of satellites in low-Earth orbit for military use. So far it has acquired 28 satellites that it plans to launch in 2022. The agency plans to buy up to 150 additional satellites to be launched in late 2024.
The agency has emphasized the use of commoditized satellite technology to minimize development costs and expedite its programs. The announcement stated that the SDA is open to funding research-and-development projects for technologies that it might not be able to find in the open market.
“While SDA primarily seeks to acquire mature technologies that can be rapidly fielded to address pressing warfighter capability needs, SDA can also make limited but pivotal investments in research and development activities, particularly when the return on those investments can be leveraged in future acquisitions,” the solicitation reported.
Tournear also announced that SDA is working to establish a multilayered space defense architecture to enable direct communication between weapons systems and a tactical data link.
Tournear reported that the U.S. Army serves as SDA’s "closest partner" to leverage the satellite network to detect beyond-line-of-sight mobile targets and hypersonic missile threats. He noted that the Link-16 data link technology will support the mesh network’s functionalities related to the targeting of ground and maritime assets as well as the rapid transmission of on-orbit data to the ground.
These efforts will support SDA’s partnership with the Army for the Titan high-frequency satellite communications program and the U.S. Navy’s similar satcom initiatives once the SDA satellite network goes live, Tournear noted.
Featuring Tournear as keynote speaker, 2021 SDA Forum will address advancements and challenges within the development and delivery of innovative space solutions, as well as how the industry can support SDA initiatives.
Join Potomac Officers Club’s 2021 SDA Forum to learn how SDA continues to evolve, in addition to how the government and industry work together to deliver the best technologies, so the nation can maintain its advantage in the modern space race.