The Space Development Agency has awarded Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) and L3Harris Technologies (NYSE: LHX) prototype agreements worth $1.3 billion combined to build and deploy 28 satellites for the first tranche of the National Defense Space Architecture’s tracking layer.
The Tranche 1 Tracking Layer is expected to launch beginning in April 2025 to gather infrared data, deliver network communications and help detect, identify and track hypersonic weapons and other advanced missile threats, the Department of Defense said Monday.
Derek Tournear, director of SDA and a previous Wash100 Award winner, said the agency believes that the winning contractors offered “the best overall solution to accelerate delivery of a low-Earth orbit constellation with wide-field-of-view infrared sensors for a global missile warning and missile tracking capability in Tranche 1, on schedule.”
The 28 satellites for the T1 Tracking Layer will be divided into four planes. Each vendor will build 14 satellites in two orbital planes and equip those space vehicles with optical communications terminals, infrared mission payloads, Ka-band communications payloads and multiple pointing modes.
Each prototype agreement covers a ground segment for sustainment and operations and a launch services segment for launch preparation.
SDA solicited proposals for the T1 Tracking Layer program in March and evaluated the offers through an other transaction authorities solicitation.