(Editor's Note: This post has been updated with additional information from the Space Development Agency.)
The Space Development Agency today awarded Ball Aerospace a $176 million contract for 10 space vehicles for the National Defense Space Architecture Experimental Testbed, according to an SDA press release.
All satellites are planned to launch within two years of today’s award, an SDA official told Inside Defense. Work on the contract, including satellite operations, is slated to conclude at the end of 2027.
“NExT is an exciting program that has a lot of tie-in with our mission partners and will help to advance future tranches of the National Defense Space Architecture,” SDA Director Derek Tournear said in the release. “We’re confident that selection of the Ball Aerospace team provides the best overall solution to deliver NExT, including payload integration and launch.”
Ball will provide the space vehicles and integration services of government-provided payloads and will operate the satellites from a company facility in Colorado. Ahead of SDA’s tranche launches for communications and missile warning satellites, NDSA NExT will “demonstrate low-latency data transport and beyond line-of-sight command and control,” the release says.
The NExT program is separate from the SDA tranche satellites but will evaluate their critical capabilities. Once SDA’s Tranche 1 Transport Layer satellites are in orbit, which are planned to connect warfighters around the globe, the NExT satellites will test the architecture’s interoperability with new space vehicles and various payloads, according to the release.