Terran Orbital announced today that it has delivered the first of 10 satellite buses to Lockheed Martin to support the Tranche 0 launch of the Space Development Agency's Transport Layer, the company said in a press release.
The Transport Layer seeks to create a constellation of variously sized satellites that will support communications and beyond-line-of-sight targeting for warfighters. The effort will also provide key infrastructure for the Defense Department’s Joint All Domain Command and Control initiative.
The Transport Layer’s first launch, called Tranche 0, is scheduled for this October and will launch 20 space vehicles. According to the SDA’s description of the project, forthcoming tranches will eventually launch between 300 to over 500 satellites in low-earth orbit.
Constructing new space capabilities remains a key goal of officials and policymakers. At a panel hosted by the Atlantic Council last week, SDA Policy Chief Paula Trimble stated that projects like the Transport Layer are critical to maintain an edge in space, reasoning that layers of small satellites are more resilient than current systems consisting of fewer, large satellites that often make easier targets.
Lockheed and York Space Systems were respectively awarded $187.5 million and $94 million contracts in August 2020 for the Tranche 0 project. According to a Terran Orbital spokesman, the first bus was delivered last week, and the company is on schedule for the remaining nine deliveries. The other 10 space buses will be delivered by York Space Systems.