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SpaceX receives a contract to build missile tracking satellites for the Department of Defense

Yesterday, SpaceX received a contract worth more than $ 149 million from the Space Development Agency (SDA), tasked with building a new satellite for the US military that can track and provide early warning of hypersonic missile launches. Another company, L3 Harris from Florida, received more than $ 193 million from the agency to build tracking satellites as well.

The satellites are expected to be the first crucial part of the SDA’s Tracking Layer Tranche 0, which is designed to provide missile tracking for the Department of Defense from space using infrared sensors. SpaceX and L3 Harris will jointly build eight satellites to be delivered to DOD for the Tracking Layer, the first satellites in a planned constellation.

The Tracking Layer will work in conjunction with the Transport Layer proposed by the SDA, another planned constellation of 300-500 satellites that will provide “low-latency military data and worldwide connectivity”

; to military assets. Both layers will be able to communicate with each other via inter-satellite links. In this way, all the data that the sensors collect in the Tracking Layer can be quickly disseminated to the ground crew. Lockheed Martin and York Space Systems have both received contracts to develop the first satellites for this level of transport.

This is the first time SpaceX has received a DOD award for building satellites. The company is rapidly developing its own satellite flight with its Starlink constellation, a proposed constellation of nearly 12,000 satellites intended to broadcast broadband Internet connectivity to users on Earth. To win this SDA award, SpaceX offered a satellite concept based on its Starlink design, News from space relationships.

“We are confident that these fixed price awards will help us deliver the initial Tracking Layer tranche on schedule,” said Derek Tournear, Director of SDA The Verge. “We were pleased with the response of the industry and business partners to this competition.”

The SDA wants these eight satellites to be delivered and launched by the end of 2022. Along with the SpaceX and L3 Harris satellites, the agency plans to launch up to 20 satellites from the Transport Layer at that time, as well as two additional satellite trackers that are developed by the Missile Defense Agency. And this is only the first batch; SDA plans to install even more satellites in the Tracking Layer once these initial eight go up, second News from space.

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