SDA Awards Deal to York for 62 More LEO Satellites

The Space Development Agency awarded a contract for 62 more satellites for its extensive planned low-Earth orbit constellation, an agency spokesperson confirmed Oct. 20. 

York Space Systems will produce the satellites for the Alpha segment of the Tranche 2 Transport Layer. The deal is valued at more than $615 million, presuming York earns the on-time delivery incentive built into the agreement, the spokesperson said. 

SDA director Derek M. Tournear first announced the award at the 2023 Milsat Symposium in Mountain View, Calif.

York previously won Tranche 0 and Tranche 1 awards for the Transport Layer, as well as the Tranche 1 Demonstration and Experimentation System.  

SDA has awarded contracts for 335 satellites to date as part of its Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture—more than quadruple the number of satellites the Space Force was publicly known to have as of Sept. 30, 2022.  

The goal of the PWSA, split among a Tracking Layer and a Transport Layer, is to provide both missile tracking and connectivity from low-Earth orbit, with large numbers of smaller satellites to discourage adversaries from trying to shoot down or otherwise disable any one satellite. 

“We’ll have hundreds and hundreds of these satellites up there,” Tournear said at the Mitchell Institute’s Spacepower Security Forum in April. “It will cost more to shoot down a single satellite than it will cost to build that single satellite. We just completely changed that value equation.”  

New tranches are scheduled to launch every two years. Thus far, 23 Tranche 0 satellites have gone up, with Tranche 1 slated to follow in the fall of 2024 and Tranche 2 in 2026. 

Tranche 0 is intended to be the “warfighter immersion tranche,” Tournear has said, giving service members the opportunity to work with the systems, understand their capabilities, and begin to imagine how they might be employed. Tranche 1 will then operationalize those capabilities, and Tranche 2 will provide global persistence. With each tranche, the number of satellites will increase. 

Within Tranche 2, the Transport Layer will consist of three segments, each with different sets of capabilities. The Alpha segment, for which York won its most recent contract, will be the most basic, with capabilities similar to those in the Tranche 1 Transport Layer. 

In August, SDA announced two contracts worth a collective $1.55 billion for 72 satellites in the Beta segment, which will have ultra-high-frequency and tactical communications payloads. 

The Alpha segment is projected to have 100 satellites overall, and SDA is expected to announce a contract with a second vendor for the remaining 38 in the coming days. 

Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture

0Transport20York Space Systems, Lockheed Martin
Tracking8SpaceX, L3Harris
1Transport126York Space Systems, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman
Tracking35L3Harris, Northrop Gumman, Raytheon
Demonstration and Experimentation System12York Space Systems
2Transport72Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin
Transport100York Space Systems, TBA
Transport44 (approx.)TBA
Tracking52 (approx.)TBA
Demonstration and Experimentation System20 (approx.)TBA