Space Force eyes low-cost, GEO-based space domain awareness sensor production program

By Courtney Albon / October 21, 2021 at 5:20 PM

The Space Force is considering a future production program aimed at fielding low-cost space domain awareness sensors as hosted payloads and is seeking concepts from industry in a new request for information.

The payloads would be based in geostationary Earth orbit and collect data "on all GEO objects that fall within the sensors' minimum sensitivity threshold," the RFI, released today, states, and the broader system will include a ground segment that will process data and feed it to the Unified Data Library.

The aim is to augment the existing Space Surveillance Network and support the Combined Space Operations Center and the National Space Defense Center.

"The government has identified a need for evolutionary or revolutionary space-based SDA sensors to augment current and planned systems by providing frequent, timely, assured volume revisit of significant portions of the GEO belt with real-time or near-real-time downlink and processing of collected data," the notice states.

The service is looking for concepts with recurring engineering costs at or below $10 million. The notice doesn't offer details on the timeline for creating the program, but notes that following an initial prototype, the Space Force plans to launch a competition for a formal acquisition category 1 program "in the next few years."

"The program will nominally produce three to four payloads per year and will be launched on various space vehicles including international hosts," the notice states.

The RFI follows a broad agency announcement released late last summer to identify concepts for low-cost, small hosted payloads that would improve SDA capabilities in GEO.