SDA issues draft solicitation for Tranche 2 Transport Layer satellites

By Michael Marrow / February 2, 2023 at 11:11 AM

The Space Development Agency is asking for industry input on a draft solicitation for satellites that will "establish the foundation for Tranche 2," according to a Jan. 31 SDA notice.

The solicitation centers on what SDA calls the Beta satellites in Tranche 2 of the Transport Layer that will provide S-band and ultra-high frequency tactical satellite communications along with low-earth orbit integrated broadcast service payloads. The Beta satellites are scheduled to start launching in one-month intervals no later than Oct. 31, 2026, the draft solicitation says.

The Transport Layer is planned to serve as a data transfer system that will connect warfighters around the globe, which SDA calls the “backbone” of DOD’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control initiative. Launched in two-year tranches, the first satellites that will compose SDA’s newly renamed Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture are set to go up in March.

Data transport is one half of SDA’s mission; the other is missile warning and tracking, which will be performed by satellites in the Tracking Layer.

SDA anticipates issuing awards to three vendors for building a total of 72 Beta space vehicles. The satellites will be split between six orbital planes, the notice says, with each vendor tasked with building 12 satellites for two of the planes and providing associated ground support.

Vendors are also expected to make their satellites interoperable with each other and able to send beyond-line-of-sight messages to ground, maritime and airborne users, the notice adds.

SDA asks for all interested vendors to provide feedback on the draft solicitation by March 1.