SDA successfully launches Tranche 0 satellites

By Apurva Minchekar / April 3, 2023 at 2:11 PM

The Space Development Agency on Sunday announced the successful launch of Tranche 0 satellites, which took off from Vandenberg Space Force Base, CA, after postponing the original launch date of March 30.

"This is a major accomplishment for SDA and for the whole Department of Defense,” SDA Director Derek Tournear said in a statement. “It shows that our key pillars, proliferation and spiral development, can deliver for national security space.”

A SpaceX Falcon 9 reusable, two-stage rocket was launched with a set of 10 satellites, including eight transport satellites from York Space System and two tracking satellites from SpaceX.

The launched T0 is part of SDA’s Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture, the transport and tracking layer satellites intended to demonstrate the low-latency communication links to a network of integrated capabilities, including tracking of advanced missile threats from low-Earth orbit, according to SDA.

For the second T0 launch, scheduled for June, York Space Systems and Lockheed Martin will produce 10 transport satellites each, for a total of 20 T0 transport satellites, according to SDA, while SpaceX and L3Harris will produce four tracking satellites for a total of eight T0 satellites.

T0 demonstration will begin once all 28 satellites are placed in two orbital planes at an altitude of approximately 1,000 km. After undergoing a period of test and checkout of the bus and mission payloads, the tranche will support military exercises, including advanced missile tracking tests in the summer of 2023 and the future, according to SDA.

"Through this launch (T0 initial launch), we've demonstrated that SDA can keep a schedule to deliver enhanced capabilities every two years,” Tournear said. “This revolutionary approach is enabled by the growth in the commercial marketplace, allowing the PWSA to move forward to deliver warfighting capabilities in each future tranche.”

SDA plans the first operational generation of the PWSA, Tranche 1, to begin in late 2024, which will include 126 transport layer satellites, 35 tracking satellites and 12 tactical demonstration satellites.