SpaceX started the new year earning a $150.4 million contract from the United States Department of Defense. Under the contract, SpaceX is tasked with deploying 28 satellites for the U.S. Space Development Agency (SDA) atop a Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The agency states the satellites will be ready for deployment until 2022.
SpaceNews first-reported “The contract is to launch a mix of small and medium spacecraft of different sizes that the Space Development Agency is acquiring from multiple vendors. That includes 20 data-relay satellites known as the Transport Layer and the other eight are missile-warning satellites known as the Tracking Layer,” SpaceNews reporter Sandra Erwin wrote.
In October 2020 SpaceX earned a separate contract from the U.S. Space Development Agency valued at $149 million. Under the contract, SpaceX will build missile-tracking satellites for the military, according to a financial document published by the Pentagon Department of Defense on October 2nd.
SDA Director Derek Tournear told SpaceNews SpaceX “came in with an extremely credible proposal” to develop the satellites based on the Starlink satellite bus design. SpaceX is actively manufacturing Starlink satellites for its Starlink broadband internet network. The company builds its satellites at a facility located in Redmond, Washington. SpaceX officials previously said they are manufacturing 120 satellites per month. Tournear told reporters the company was selected for its ability to manufacture satellites rapidly. SpaceX will use its Starlink manufacturing facility to build four satellites for SDA. These satellites are called "Tracking Layer Tranche 0" and will be equipped with a wide-angle infrared missile-tracking sensor supplied by a subcontractor. The satellites will be capable of detecting intercontinental ballistic missiles in real time and track it with high accuracy to intercept.
SDA also awarded a contract to L3Harris valued at $193.5 million, to build four satellites that will also be part of the U.S. military's missile-tracking satellite constellation in low Earth orbit. All eight satellites by both companies are scheduled to be ready for deployment by fall 2022.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.