Space Development Agency Makes Awards for 126 Satellites to Build Tranche 1 Transport Layer

Tranche 1 Transport Layer mesh satellite communications network. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

With Industry Onboard, National Defense Space Architecture Ready to Take Shape

WASHINGTON (SDA PR) — The Space Development Agency (SDA) today announced the awards of three prototype agreements worth approximately $1.8 billion to establish the foundation for Tranche 1 Transport Layer (T1TL), a mesh network of 126 optically-interconnected space vehicles (SV) that will provide a resilient, low-latency, high-volume data transport communication system, and be ready for launch starting in September 2024. 

These agreements are awarded to York Space Systems, Lockheed Martin Space, and Northrop Grumman Space Systems to each build and demonstrate effectiveness for two near-polar low Earth orbital planes of the six-plane T1TL, which forms the initial warfighting capability tranche of the National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA).

“These awards will drive delivery of the NDSA’s data and communications Transport Layer through a proliferated constellation of relatively small, mass-producible space vehicles in low Earth orbit,” said Derek Tournear, SDA director. “Through our solicitations, we aim to create a marketplace through two-year spiral development and regular, full and open solicitations for each tranche so that industry can plan, develop and grow accordingly. We look forward to collaborating with our industry partners to deliver the capabilities the warfighter needs through Tranche 1 and beyond.” 

Tranche 1 Transport Layer will leverage and proliferate the capabilities being demonstrated in Tranche 0 Transport Layer with targeted technology enhancements, mission-focused payload configurations, increased integration, and greater production efficiencies. The T1TL will provide global communications access and deliver persistent regional encrypted connectivity in support of warfighter missions around the globe by serving as the backbone for Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) built on low-latency data transport, sensor-to-shooter connectivity, and direct-to-weapon platforms connectivity.

York Space Systems, Denver, is awarded a prototype agreement with a potential value of approximately $382 million to execute a research and development program for the development of a T1TL prototype constellation consisting of 42 satellites in two near-polar low Earth orbital planes (21 SVs for each orbital plane). The proposal was received and evaluated under an Other Transaction Authorities solicitation SDA-PS-22-01.

“We are honored to again have SDA’s confidence in executing the agency’s vision,” said Dirk Wallinger, chief executive officer, York Space Systems. “Their competitive, fixed-price procurements leverage York’s private capital investments to deliver low-risk, industry-leading constellations today and well into the future.” The Space Development Agency is the contracting activity (HQ08502290003).

Lockheed Martin Corporation, Littleton, Colo., is awarded a prototype agreement with a potential value of approximately $700 million to execute a research and development program for the development of a T1TL prototype constellation consisting of 42 satellites in two near-polar low Earth orbital planes (21 SVs for each orbital plane).

The proposal was received and evaluated under an Other Transaction Authorities solicitation SDA-PS-22-01.

“Our team at Lockheed Martin is thrilled to be awarded a T1TL contract,” said Erik Daehler, Protected Communications Mission Area leader at Lockheed Martin Space. “We’re looking forward to building upon our team’s success on Tranche 0 by approaching Tranche 1 with modernized and streamlined processes that do more, cost less and achieve mission goals faster. Producing these innovative spacecraft will be a collaborative effort, with Lockheed Martin using its longstanding partnerships to deliver high-quality products that will provide the right capabilities to the warfighter.”

The Space Development Agency is the contracting activity (HQ08502290001).

Northrop Grumman Strategic Space Systems, Redondo Beach, Calif., is awarded a prototype agreement with potential value of approximately $692 million to execute a research and development program for the development of a T1TL prototype constellation consisting of 42 satellites in two near-polar low Earth orbital planes (21 SVs for each orbital plane).  The proposal was received and evaluated under an Other Transaction Authorities solicitation SDA-PS-22-01.

“Northrop Grumman recognizes information on the modern battlefield must be delivered to our warfighters at the speed of relevance,” said Robert Fleming, vice president and general manager, Strategic Space Systems. “Our T1TL solution combines proven end-to-end satellite system integration and heritage communication mission expertise accumulated over decades, across multiple orbital regimes to rapidly field these critical capabilities to warfighters in the field.”

The Space Development Agency is the contracting activity (HQ08502290002).

About the Space Development Agency. Recognized as DOD’s constructive disruptor for space acquisition, SDA will accelerate delivery of needed space-based capabilities to the joint warfighter to support terrestrial missions through development, fielding, and operation of the National Defense Space Architecture. For more information on SDA, contact  OSD.SDA.Outreach@mail.mil or visit https://www.sda.mil.