Space Development Agency could select three manufacturers to produce its next batch of satellites

Derek Tournear: ‘I am actually thinking about business suggestions after they see our acquisition technique’

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s House Improvement Company is contemplating shopping for its subsequent 150 satellites from three completely different distributors, however that might change after the company evaluates corporations’ bids, SDA director Derek Tournear stated April 14.

Talking on the Washington House Enterprise Roundtable, Tournear stated a request for proposals shall be issued in August for the company’s Transport Layer Tranche 1 — a community of a whole bunch of communications satellites in low Earth orbit projected to begin launching in late 2024. 

The request shall be for 150 satellites however SDA has not but determined how that order shall be divvied up. “There may be in all probability three awards for these 150 satellites, however we’re not wed to a few,” Tournear stated. “Three is just not a magic quantity. I’m actually thinking about business suggestions after they see our acquisition technique.”

The 150 satellites shall be deployed at altitudes of about 1,000 kilometers in six planes. SDA would possibly ask distributors to bid for every of the six planes, stated Tournear. “However this might all change, there are nonetheless inner debates.” How corporations value every aircraft, for instance, would assist decide what number of awards, he stated. “The awards may very well be anyplace from one to 6 performers if we purchased a aircraft at a time.”

A key issue is whether or not distributors could make their satellites with open requirements to allow them to speak to these from different manufactures, Tournear stated. “That’s a vital piece. The one method this works is in an open structure the place I can have individuals bid and win a sure fraction of the market share, if we do that in a method that has open requirements and an open structure.”

The precise necessities for interoperability and satellite tv for pc crosslinks shall be issued quickly, Tournear stated.

SDA expects its Tranche 1 satellites to value lower than the typical $14.1 million that it paid for Tranche 0 satellites,  Tournear stated. He famous that folks within the Pentagon proceed to be shocked that SDA is ready to purchase satellites at such low costs in comparison with conventional navy satellites that value a whole bunch of tens of millions of {dollars} every.

After a latest request for data SDA despatched to distributors, “responses got here again truly at considerably lower than $14.1 million,” Tournear stated. “That simply reveals commoditization has burned down the value of the satellites, and that basically allows proliferation.”

Choices for launch autos

The procurement of launch companies for the 150 satellites is one other challenge SDA is debating. The company has requested the House Power to estimate what it might value to launch SDA’s satellites on United Launch Alliance or SpaceX rockets underneath the Nationwide Safety House Launch program. “It’s unclear if that’s possible, given our funds constraints,” Tournear stated.

SDA awarded SpaceX a $150 million contract to launch its 28 Tranche 0 satellites, however that was a industrial procurement, not an NSSL award.

“With a whole bunch of the satellites you may clear up that downside a variety of alternative ways,” stated Tournear. 

A bigger launch car works for the preliminary deployments of satellites however SDA believes it would want different launch choices as extra satellites are added in future years.

“There’s a pair completely different debates happening inside the company and inside the company and the House Power on how one can deal with that,” he stated.

After Tranche 1 is in orbit, for instance, SDA will wish to intersperse new satellites with present ones as older ones are decommissioned, he. stated. “I don’t wish to populate a aircraft at a time, I actually wish to intersperse them,” he added. “I don’t wish to launch a complete aircraft. In order that units us up into a distinct class of launch car.”

Places for satellite tv for pc ops

SDA is headquartered on the Pentagon, however its satellites shall be flown from two main navy bases: Grand Forks Air Power Base in North Dakota; and the Military’s Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. 

“That’s the place we’re planning to have our mission operations middle for Tranche 1 and past,” stated Tournear. 

Grand Forks was chosen for its experience in tactical aviation and drone operations, he stated. Redstone was picked as a result of the Military shall be one of many major customers of SDA’s satellites not only for communications however for past line of sight concentrating on. “So we wish to be sure we’re tied in with these teams,” stated Tournear.

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