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Terran Orbital to Support Lockheed Martin’s SDA Tranche 1 Transport Layer Contract 

By Rachel Jewett | March 15, 2022

The transport layer in the Space Development Agency’s National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA). Photo: SDA

Lockheed Martin has awarded Terran Orbital a contract to build 42 satellites for the Space Development Agency‘s Tranche 1 Transport Layer. The contract supports the $700 million prototype contract Lockheed Martin was awarded last month to build the satellites. 

The Tranche 1 Transport Layer (T1TL) is a mesh network of optically interconnected satellites for a data transport system. It forms the initial tranche of the National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA) — an ecosystem of hundreds of satellites operating on Low-Earth Orbit (LEO). The SDA has said the T1TL will provide global communications access and deliver persistent regional encrypted connectivity, serving as the backbone for Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2). 

Lockheed previously tapped Terran Orbital subsidiary Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems for the buses for its Tranche 0 satellites for the SDA. 

“This contract for Tranche 1, along with our previous contract for Tranche 0, not only affirms confidence in our industry-leading spacecraft designs, but also validates our ability to deliver game-changing capability in partnership with Lockheed Martin,” commented Marc Bell, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Terran Orbital.  

For the Tranche 1 contract, Lockheed has been tasked with building 42 satellites in two near-Polar Low-Earth Orbital planes. Each space vehicle must be equipped with: an optical communications terminals enabling a minimum of four simultaneous optical communications links; Link 16 communications payload, Ka-band radio frequency communications payload; and BMC3 module enabling on-orbit data processing, storage and fusion. The first plane of the T1TL constellation is expected to be launched by September 2024.