Lockheed Martin and York Space Systems have received contracts to develop 10 satellites each for the Space Development Agency. Image courtesy of Lockheed Martin
Sept. 1 (UPI) -- The Space Development Agency has awarded two contracts -- totaling $281.6 million -- to develop two sets of satellites that will serve as the communications backbone for a network designed to enable a range of advanced command and control systems.
Lockheed Martin on Monday was awarded $187.5 million and York Space Systems received $94 million for the Space Development Agency's Transport Layer Tranche 0, the first group of satellites for the new constellation, according to the Pentagon.
The SDA plans to create a meshed communications network in low-Earth orbit that will be able to transfer data globally through optical links and serve as the conduit for other systems.
Six of the 20 satellites will have Link-16 transmitters, meaning they will be able to connect to warfighters through the military's tactical network.
"At about this time in exactly two years, we will be launching 20 satellites from two different performers to make up the nucleus of our tranche zero transport," said Derek Tournear, the Director of the SDA, which was established last year. "That is the backbone of what the department is betting will be the future of the [joint all-domain command-and-control] architecture, or the ability to do tactical data transfer from space to the warfighting edge."
According to Tournear, multiple companies bid on the project and came back with a "range of different technical solutions," with Lockheed -- which has been building satellites for decades -- and York Systems, which was founded in 2015, submitting the top proposals.
"We awarded them based completely on the technical merit and what we thought was their ability to be able to make schedule and provide a solution, and then price was factored into that," he added. "That's what led York and Lockheed Martin to come out on top."
"We see a world across all warfighting domains where fourth and fifth-generation fighters and tactical forces on the ground can connect seamlessly with holistic situational awareness," said Kay Sears, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Military Space. "Interoperability and battlespace connectivity are critical to staying ahead of our adversaries."