SDA expands its LEO mission to Grand Forks AFB

By Apurva Minchekar / August 8, 2023 at 3:12 PM

The Space Development Agency is building a satellite testing center at Grand Forks Air Force Base, ND to expand its low-Earth satellite mission and expects to complete it by 2026, according to an announcement yesterday.

“The Space Development Agency’s presence at Grand Forks Base is critical to the agency’s success, both in terms of geography and because it allows our proximity to some of today’s most important warfighting missions,” SDA Director Derek Tournear said, who was accompanied by Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) at Grand Forks.

According to the announcement, SDA will have the operations center and test and checkout center at Grand Forks and the operations center at Redstone Arsenal, AL -- with construction costs for all three facilities totaling $30 million.

Hoeven, who is a member of the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee, was able to acquire $18 million in construction funding in fiscal year 2022 for two operational centers; $4 million in FY-2023 to start the construction of the TCC with an additional $4 million in FY-24; and expects $4 million in FY-25.

Additionally, the SDA has awarded a $325 million operations and integration contract to establish the Space Networking Center to General Dynamics Mission Systems and Iridium in FY-22.

“The Space Networking Center will support the first layer of the SDA’s satellite operations, which is designed to transport data and facilitate communications,” the announcement reads.

Tournear said the addition of the SDA Test and Checkout center will enable the agency to “support near-continuous launch into the future.”