SDA Awards Northrop and Lockheed $1.5B

Image: SDA

The Space Development Agency (SDA) is going full steam ahead on its Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture (PWSA). Yesterday, the agency announced that it has awarded the first two contracts to build and operate spacecraft for the second tranche of the network.

The two contracts are worth a combined $1.5B and secure 72 satellites. The birds will support encrypted communication for Tranche 2 of the Transport Layer of the planned national defense architecture (more on all that later). The awardees:

  • Northrop Grumman ($NOC) won $733M for 36 satellites
  • Lockheed Martin ($LMT) won $816M for 36 satellites

Transport and tracking

The SDA’s ambitious plans for a national defense architecture in space focus on taking full advantage of emerging technologies whenever they’re ready. A batch of satellites, or “tranche,” is planned to launch approximately every two years.

The architecture also breaks down into two individual constellations, Transport and Tracking. These contracts cover satellites that will be part of the Transport Layer, which will be connected in a mesh network via laser inter-satellite links to ferry information wherever it needs to go as quickly as possible.

Peeking ahead: Tranche 2 is expected to launch in 2026 and provide global persistence for Tranche 1 capabilities. Northrop and Lockheed, along with satellite manufacturer York Space, are also in the process of building satellites for Tranche 1, which is slated for launch next year.