General Dynamics Mission Systems has been awarded a $324.5 million cost plus contract by the Space Development Agency to provide operations and integration services for Tranche 1 of the National Defense Space Architecture, according to an award announcement issued by the Defense Department on May 26.
Work on the O&I contract will consist of General Dynamics standing up and sustaining ground-based infrastructure at two separate networking and operations facilities provided by SDA at Grand Forks Air Force Base, ND and Redstone Arsenal, AL, as well as building 14 new ground installations, according to a background briefing provided by an SDA official.
General Dynamics was selected out of a pool of seven competitors, the official said, and chose Iridium Communications as a major teammate. Other partners are KSAT USA, Raytheon Technologies and Emergent, the official added.
Tranche 1 will provide initial warfighting capabilities through a low earth orbit constellation numbering as many as 166 satellites, the official noted. The base contract spans from May 2022 through January 2025, with options to extend it to September 2029.
“SDA is confident that the selection of the General Dynamics team provides the best overall solution to deliver an integrated ground segment capability, providing operations and sustainment support for Tranche 1 on schedule,” the official said.
The Tranche 1 project will follow launches conducted through Tranche 0 to support the agency’s Transport Layer. The Transport Layer aims to launch a constellation of variously sized satellites every two years that will eventually number between 300 to over 500. The satellites are intended to serve as the backbone of the Pentagon’s Joint All Domain Command and Control initiative and provide expanded communications capabilities for warfighters.
The SDA previously awarded Lockheed Martin $187.5 million and York Space systems $94 million to build 10 space vehicles each as part of the first phase of the Transport Layer, called Tranche 0, with launches scheduled for this October. Earlier this month, Terran Orbital delivered the first space vehicle to Lockheed.
In February, SDA awarded three contracts totaling nearly $1.8 billion to Lockheed, York and Northrop Grumman to build the satellites for Tranche 1. The companies will each deliver 42 for a total of 126 satellites, according to the contracts. The O&I contract won by General Dynamics will unify the separate data streams provided by the contractors in a common, accessible architecture.
Launches for Tranche 1 are scheduled for 2024.