Aerial view of the United States military headquarters, the Pentagon.
Jason Reed | Reuters
The Space Development Agency, the acquisition arm of the Department of Defense, on Monday announced contracts of about $1.8 billion to three companies for a next-generation military communications network of 126 satellites.
Lockheed Martin won $700 million, Northrop Grumman won $692 million, and York won $382 million.
The Transport Layer Network (SDA) represents the Pentagon’s attempt to build a satellite internet system. Companies like Starlink SpaceXAnd the OneWebAnd the AmazonAnd the Telesat Funds have been poured into the development of private broadband satellite networks in low Earth orbit.
But the Pentagon aims to create its own “nested network” with the transport layer, which is envisioned as a “resilient, low-latency, high-volume data transport communications system.” The transport layer is being built in “chips,” as the military wants to use an iterative design with small, low-cost satellites to make its network more robust and adaptable.
SDA awarded Lockheed and York the first transport-class contracts in 2020 for Tranche 0, with each building 10 satellites set to launch later this year. Tranche 1 contracts awarded on Monday require delivery in 2024.
The S-CLASS platform, designed to carry out tasks for a wide range of government and commercial clients.
York Space Systems
While Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin have a long history of building valuable satellites for the US government, the ongoing Transport Layer Awards are a boon to York, founded in 2015.
“The fact that SDA is leading in this field to take advantage of the types of satellites that are ready for commercial use is a big deal,” Charles Beams, president of the York Space Center, told CNBC.
Beams said York’s year-over-year revenue growth was anywhere from 40% to 100%, as the company continued to expand its manufacturing capabilities in Denver, Colorado.
“Even with conservative projections of the backlog, we have more than $1 billion in backlog” of satellites to be built over the next few years, Beams said.
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