SpaceX, L3Harris win missile-warning satellite contracts from US military

The U.S. military has picked SpaceX and L3Harris Technologies to build up a new missile-warning satellite system in space.

In separate contracts, SpaceX and L3Harris will each provide four infrared satellites devoted to missile tracking as part of the larger National Defense Space Architecture program. The contract, awarded by the Department of Defense’s Space Development Agency (SDA), gives $193.5 million to L3Harris and $149 million to SpaceX. The satellites should be ready by the end of fiscal year 2022. 

“The satellites will be able to provide missile tracking data for hypersonic glide vehicles, and the next generation of advanced missile threats,” Derek Tournear, SDA director, said in a statement.

Related: What is a ballistic missile and how does it work?

SpaceX, originally a launch provider using its Falcon rockets, has entered the satellite construction market with its Starlink constellation of internet satellites. The company has launched more

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SpaceX, L3Harris win Space Development Agency contracts to build missile-warning satellites

SDA Director Derek Tournear said SpaceX “came in with an extremely credible proposal” that leverages the Starlink assembly line

WASHINGTON — The Space Development Agency awarded SpaceX a $149 million contract and L3Harris a $193.5 million contract to each build four satellites to detect and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles.

The contracts announced Oct. 5 are for the first eight satellites of a potentially much larger Space Development Agency constellation of sensor satellites known as Tracking Layer Tranche 0. This is SpaceX’s first military contract to produce satellites. 

Both companies have to each deliver four satellites by September 2022, Space Development Agency Director Derek Tournear told SpaceNews.

Each satellite will have a “wide field of view” overhead persistent infrared (OPIR) sensor capable of detecting and tracking advanced missile threats from low Earth orbit. Each satellite also will have an optical crosslink so it can pass data to relay satellites. 

Tournear

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