Tuesday, February 20, 2024

L3Harris completes design review for 16 missile tracking satellites

L3Harris successfully completed its Critical Design Review (CDR) and Production Readiness Review (PRR) for 16 missile tracking satellites that will be part of the Space Development Agency’s (SDA) Tranche 1 Tracking Layer (T1TRK) program.

Hypersonic missiles pose a serious threat to global stability and security because they are hard to detect, track, and intercept. They can be launched from various locations and can change direction rapidly during flight. To deter their use and, when needed, to defeat them, the United States requires a resilient sensor platform to track their movements and ensure the country’s national security.

The recent CDR and PRR milestones achieved by L3Harris demonstrate progress towards SDA’s Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture, which aims to establish a network of military satellites in low-Earth orbit to provide enhanced situational awareness and tracking capabilities. The CDR milestone demonstrates that L3Harris’ design will meet the mission requirements, while the PRR provides L3Harris with the SDA’s approval to begin the full production process.

The Tranche 1 Tracking Layer developed by L3Harris relies on infrared sensors and advanced algorithms to detect, track, and fuse threat data. The information is then relayed in real-time to the warfighter through a meshed network that employs both optical and RF communications.

In addition, the space vehicles can be commanded from the ground to a range of pointing modes that provide further insight into threat tracks. L3Harris also provides supporting ground, operations, and sustainment throughout the lifespan of the program.

L3Harris is working hard to meet launch schedule commitments for their missile-tracking satellites. They started fabrication of critical sub-assemblies before the CDR and PRR and have successfully transitioned to the assembly and integration phase. They’re working with over 20 major subcontractors and dozens of suppliers to provide critical parts for the satellites and ground systems.

The satellites are slated for launch in 2025 and will feature advanced technology designed to counter the fastest, most maneuverable hypersonic missiles.

“L3Harris is working in lockstep with the SDA to get these critical capabilities on-orbit and into the hands of the nation’s warfighters as quickly as possible,” L3Harris’ Director of Program Management Bob De Cort said in the statement. “The SDA takes a fundamentally fresh and different approach than traditional defense contracting. Rather than investing schedule and funds in single point solutions, the SDA acquisition plan breaks from tradition to use spiral development leveraging interoperable commercial technologies to deploy tranches of satellites every couple of years.”

De Cort continued, “Our recent success at CDR and PRR show that we are the leading partner within SDA’s Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture, demonstrating not just missile warning and tracking but the beyond line of sight targeting that the warfighters need to enhance America’s strategic deterrence from space.”