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How SDA’s Vision to Build a Satellite Mesh is Revolutionizing Space Defense in the US

In a government contracting ecosystem often defined by bureaucratic processes and long timelines, the Space Development Agency has built a refreshing reputation of speed, agility and innovation. As the race for space superiority intensifies, more and more GovCon companies and federal agencies are noticing SDA’s success and looking to adopt the agency’s model.

Through a program called the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture, the SDA is creating a resilient, proliferated constellation of military satellites in low Earth orbit. The satellite mesh is expected to help the U.S. maintain technological and military advantages in space, and it will also serve as the foundation for the Department of Defense’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control initiative known as JADC2.

Learn more about the current state of the space domain and how government leaders are addressing evolving and emerging threats at the Potomac Officers Club’s 2023 Industrial Space Defense Summit on April 27. Don’t miss your chance to hear insights from Space Force, Missile Defense Agency, Air Force and other space organizations in person. Register here

But ultimately, the PWSA effort aims to protect the nation and its warfighters from increasing threats in the domain.

“Both China and Russia continue to develop, field and deploy a range of weapons aimed at U.S. space capabilities,” said Gen. Chance Saltzman, chief of space operations at the U.S. Space Force and 2023 Wash100 Award winner, during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in March. 

“The spectrum of threats to U.S. space capabilities includes cyber warfare activities, electronic attack platforms, directed energy lasers designed to blind or damage satellite sensors, ground-to-orbit missiles to destroy satellites and space-to-space orbital engagement systems that can attack U.S. satellites in space,” he added.

In previous decades, space launch was extremely costly, and the satellites that were sent into space were exquisite. Now, with the commercialization of space and the influx of new entrants in the domain, launch is becoming ubiquitous. To address the heightened risks in space, the SDA’s satellite mesh is moving away from having a small number of large targets in the domain and is instead deploying a large number of small targets.

Last week, the SDA completed its highly-anticipated first launch of 10 satellites that comprise part of the PWSA’s Tranche 0 Transport and Tracking layer. The April 3, 2023 launch aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is just the first of many planned launches under the PWSA effort, with the next Tranche 0 launch scheduled for June. 

This week, the SDA is expecting to issue a request for proposals for the first 72 of 216 Tranche 2 Transport Layer satellites, according to SDA Director Dr. Derek Tournear, a fellow Wash100 awardee. 

Find out what other trends, challenges, threats and priorities are shaping the space domain today. Join the Potomac Officers Club’s 2023 Industrial Space Defense Summit to hear exclusive insights from space leaders like the Honorable Frank Calvelli, John D. Hill, Laura DeSimone and others. Register now to save your spot.

Interested in space-related government contract opportunities? Potomac Officers Club members get exclusive access to our open contract opportunities research. Visit the POC membership page for more information on membership options and benefits.

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