THE LAUNCH PAD NEWS

America

Space Image

US Space Development Agency Ready To Launch First Satellites

The Space Development Agency (SDA), a Pentagon initiative created in 2019 to accelerate the use of commercial space technology, is set to launch its first fleet of 10 satellites on March 30th.

SUMMARY
  • More details coming soon...
TOPICS
ASK A QUESTION
JOURNALISTS
Zac Aubert

Zac Aubert

Wed Mar 29 2023Written by Zac Aubert

The Space Development Agency (SDA), a Pentagon initiative created in 2019 to accelerate the use of commercial space technology, is set to launch its first fleet of 10 satellites on March 30th.

The Tranche 0 satellites will be launched from SLC-4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket marking the start of a "proliferated warfighter space architecture" deployment. The Tranche 0 satellites will be deployed in two orbital planes at an altitude of around 1,000 kilometers.

The mission will carry eight data-transport satellites made by York Space Systems, which will form part of a mesh communications network known as Transport Layer. Two infrared sensor satellites made by SpaceX and Leidos will also be launched to detect and track hypersonic missiles in flight. The Tranche 0 satellites will be operated from ground stations run by the Naval Research Laboratory.

SDA adopted a fast-track approach to build a large missile-warning and data-transport constellation in low Earth orbit. The agency's approached buying small satellites under fixed-price contracts from multiple vendors. The Tracking Layer satellites are estimated to cost about $15 million each, and the other satellites about $40 million each.

The launch is a remarkable achievement for the young agency, as it will deliver the satellites to orbit within three years of ordering them, despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The launch was originally scheduled for December, it was delayed due to an anomaly in York's satellites. The remaining two satellites will launch in June, along with the two remaining tracking satellites built by SpaceX, which won a $149 million contract to build four tracking satellites in October 2020.

The launch of the Tranche 0 satellites is a significant step forward in the development of a robust and advanced space architecture that will enhance national security and defence.