Six companies have received $278.5 million in agreements from NASA to build and demonstrate space communication services as the agency moves to decommission its fleet of near-Earth satellites.
Inmarsat’s U.S. government arm, Kuiper Government Solutions, SES Government Solutions, Telesat U.S. Services, SpaceX and Viasat are expected to complete development and demonstrations by 2025 under the Communications Services Project-funded agreements, NASA said Wednesday.
CSP seeks to assess the feasibility of commercial satellite communications networks to support future NASA missions.
“By using funded Space Act Agreements, we’re able to stimulate industry to demonstrate end-to-end capability leading to operational service,” said Eli Naffah, CSP project manager at NASA’s Glenn Research Center.
“The flight demonstrations are risk reduction activities that will develop multiple capabilities and will provide operational concepts, performance validation, and acquisition models needed to plan the future acquisition of commercial services for each class of NASA missions,” Naffah added.
SpaceX, for instance, will demonstrate an optical relay network for high-rate satcom services in low-Earth orbit in support of early operations phase communications, launch and ascent, contingency operations and other routine missions under a potential $70 million contract.
Each vendor are expected to exceed or match NASA contributions during the development and demonstration phase over five years.