Space Development Agency to reassess plans for the missile-tracking satellites

Companies who bid earlier this year for satellite contracts awarded to L3Harris and SpaceX by the Space Development Agency were requested to resubmit their applications after numerous award protests. On October 28 as well as November 3, respectively, Airbus and Raytheon filed complaints with Government Accountability Office opposing the October 5 contract awards to both L3Harris as well as SpaceX from the Space Development Agency. The Space Development Agency promised to have a second look at contractor bids in order to address the protests. GAO denied the November 30 protests of both Airbus as well as Raytheon.

But on November 30, as well as December 17, Raytheon filed two additional protests opposing the disciplinary intervention of the Department. On the essence of the protest, Raytheon declined to comment. The GAO denied the December 17 protest on December 22. Space Development Agency spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said during a December 22 update that the authority is “quickly and decisively enforcing its Tracking Tranche 0 solicitation corrective action plan.”

The Space Development Agency approved a $149 million deal to SpaceX on October 5 and a $193.5 million contract to L3Harris to develop 4 satellites each to monitor and track ballistic as well as hypersonic missiles. These 8 satellites are recognized as Tracking Layer Tranche 0. Elzea has stated that the Department has issued ‘evaluation letters’ to rivals whose ideas fall beyond the competitive spectrum and are pending their replies. SDA is optimistic that the reevaluation would result in a fair result for all parties involved.

They told L3Harris as well as SpaceX to stop all work on the project. By late 2022, the Space Development Agency set a target of launching Tranche 0 satellites. How long it’ll take to settle the dispute, and whether the timetable will be kept is not clear. Elzea said the Department continues to “make every attempt to maintain the National Defense Space Architecture Tracking Layer on schedule, taking into account the rights which vendors enjoy under the Federal Acquisition Regulation.” The number of applications for the Tracking Layer Tranche 0 contract that has been submitted is unclear.

It is important to note that the contract goal is to develop sensor algorithms for a possible missile detection network in the space for a “tracking phenomenology experiment. The experiment is an early phase in the SDA’s attempt to launch in 2022 a large constellation of the low-orbiting satellites to detect as well as keep track of the hypersonic missiles maneuvering which China and Russia are supposed to field in the immediate future as predicted by the Pentagon.