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L3Harris Completes CDR for Tranche 1 Tracking Layer Satellites for the SDA

By Frank Wolfe | December 21, 2023

      Rendering of L3Harris missile tracking capabilities in orbit. Photo: L3Harris

      L3Harris Technologies said on Dec. 20 that it has completed Critical Design Review and Production Readiness Review (PRR) for the 16 Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites the company is to build for the Space Development Agency’s (SDA) Tranche 1 Tracking Layer.

      “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,” L3Harris said. “To meet launch schedule commitments, L3Harris started fabrication of critical sub-assemblies well before the CDR. With the CDR and PRR in the rearview, the team has successfully transitioned to the assembly and integration phase, coordinating closely with more than 20 major subcontractors and dozens of suppliers who provide critical parts for the satellites and the ground systems.”

      In July last year, SDA said that it had awarded L3Harris $700 million and Northrop Grumman $617 million for the Tranche 1 Tracking Layer satellites. The Tranche 1 Tracking Layer will identify and track hypersonic weapons and advanced missiles, as part of the SDA’s Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture.

      Northrop Grumman said last month that it had finished the CDR for the company’s 16 missile tracking satellites for SDA’s Tranche 1 Tracking Layer.

      SDA has said that it plans to launch the remaining four wide field of view Tranche 0 Tracking Layer satellites by L3Harris by the end of the year in a collaborative launch with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

      L3Harris said on Dec. 20 that the four satellites and one prototype medium field of view satellite for MDA are ready for launch “in the near future.”

      SDA Director Derek Tournear said in October that the four L3Harris wide field of view satellites would launch in mid-December in an SDA collaboration with the MDA on its Hypersonic Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) program.
      SDA has said that tardy deliveries of microelectronics and space system components for Moog, Inc. -built satellite buses for the four L3Harris Tranche 0 Tracking Layer satellites have delayed launches.

      Contractors for the Tracking Layer include L3Harris, Northrop Grumman, RTX  and SpaceX.

      Tranche 1 is to feature the first operational military satellites in the SDA effort. The 11 Tranche 1 launches–six for the Transport Layer and five for the Tracking Layer–are to take place over 11 months starting in September next year.

      This story was first published by Defense Daily.