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L3Harris to Produce Missile-Tracking Satellite Constellation for SDA Under $700M Contract; Christopher Kubasik Quoted

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L3Harris Technologies, the contractor specializing in defense and aerospace offerings, has won a potential $700 million contract from the Space Development Agency for the manufacture of a satellite fleet.

Through the Tranche 1 Tracking Layer satellites, which will feature optical communications terminals and infrared mission payloads, L3Harris will enable the SDA to monitor, single out and follow impending missile threats, the company said Monday.

Christopher Kubasik, CEO and chair of L3Harris, noted that participating in the development of up-and-coming space technologies and shaking up the status quo are integral to L3Harris’ organization-wide objectives.

Kubasik, who is a three-time recipient of the Wash100 Award, also reported that the company is prepared to fulfill clients like the SDA’s needs for diversifying space domain awareness architectures.

The new SDA contract adds to work L3Harris has been conducting under the SDA’s Tracking Layer Tranche 0 contract, presented to the company in 2020. Their team has designed and produced four prototype satellites via the prior award that are set to launch in 2023.

As part of the latest SDA award, L3Harris is scheduled to conceive and deliver a 14-unit satellite constellation, equipped with Ka-band communications payloads and a list of pointing modes, which are geared to match hypersonic missile technology so that the government can properly track it.

Additionally, L3Harris’ team will carry out ground, operations and sustainment efforts in connection with the satellite fleet. The Tranche 1 Tracking Layer contract is a fast-moving effort scaled to the mission-critical and rapidly evolving threats it is attempting to handle and mitigate. SDA Director Derek Tournear commented that the contract process “went from solicitation to award in approximately 120 days.”

The SDA win follows several other space-based technology contracts secured by L3Harris this year. In May, it was announced that the company will assist Northrop Grumman with creating an avionics system for rocket boosters that are intended to help NASA send astronauts to the moon.