L3Harris Taps MDA for Another Space Development Agency Tracking Layer Contract

Illustration of a satellite in low Earth orbit for the Tranche 1 Tracking Layer satellite program. Credit: L3Harris.

MDA will once again work with L3Harris on the Space Development Agency’s (SDA) Tracking Layer program using its expertise to to build Ka-Band steerable antennas with control electronics.

MDA had previously worked with L3Harris on the SDA’s Tranche 0 Tracking Layer program. For that program L3Harris had been contracted to develop four prototype satellites. Those satellites are scheduled to launch later this year.

This new contract, for the SDA’s Tranche 1 Tracking Layer program, will see MDA “design and build 14 flight sets of Ka-Band steerable antennas and control electronics” for L3Harris.

No value was released for the MDA contract, but the L3Harris contract has a potential value of USD$790 million.

The SDA Tracking Layer program is part of the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture (PWSA). The program includes “the Transport and Tracking Layer satellites that will demonstrate the low-latency communication links to support the warfighter with a resilient network of integrated capabilities, including tracking of advanced missile threats, from low-Earth orbit (LEO).” 

The Tranche 1 “will include 126 Transport Layer satellites, 35 Tracking satellites, and 12 tactical demonstration satellites (called T1DES).”

The SDA has already begun the preliminary solicitation for the Tranche 2 Transport Layer which will include 100 satellites for its “alpha” variant, and 72 for its “beta” variant. For the beta satellites, the baseline mission includes a Ka-Band payload along with three other “Unique Mission Payloads and Capabilities;” S-band TACSATCOM mission payload; UHF TACSATCOM mission payload; and Integrated Broadcast Service – LEO (IBS-L) mission payload.

It would be surprising if L3Harris did not compete for a slice of the Tranche 2 Transport Layer procurement, meaning it’s possible MDA may see additional contracts.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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