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US Department of Defense Begins to Launch Warfighter Satellite Constellation

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US Department of Defense Begins to Launch Warfighter Satellite Constellation

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US Department of Defense Begins to Launch Warfighter Satellite Constellation
US Department of Defense Begins to Launch Warfighter Satellite Constellation

The first 10 of 28 satellites which make up Tranche 0 of the “Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture,” are set to launch tomorrow morning out of Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The Space Development Agency is responsible for the launch and for development of the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture. Tomorrow’s group of satellites, which the SDA is also calling the “Warfighter Immersion Tranche,” comes just four years after the SDA was stood up. The Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture system will eventually include hundreds of satellites, delivered in “tranches” every two years, with each tranche providing more capability than the last.

“We’re pretty excited about that because this is the first dedicated SDA launch. All of the satellites on the rocket tomorrow will be SDA satellites and it’s the first launch of the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture. We’re right at two and a half years from order to orbit — so we’re pretty excited to show that the model actually does work to be able to do that, that proliferation, to get the capabilities to the warfighter at speed. When they’re first up there, they’re going to go through a period of calibration and then after calibration, then they’ll look for targets of opportunity,” Derek M. Tournear, director of the Space Development Agency, said.

The NDSA’s network of hundreds of optically-connected satellites will deliver two primary capabilities to warfighters on the ground. The first is beyond line-of-sight targeting for ground and maritime time-sensitive targets, which includes mobile missiles and ships, for instance. The system will provide the ability to detect those targets, track them, calculate a fire control solution and then deliver that solution down to a weapons platform so that the target can be destroyed. The second capability is similar to the first, but for enemy missiles already in flight.

Following tomorrow’s launch, those first ten satellites — eight of which are “transport layer” satellites and two of which are “tracking layer” satellites — will undergo calibration and their efficacy will also be evaluated with a series of tests. The other 18 satellites that make up the 28 satellites in Tranche 0 are expected to launch in June. The SDA plans to launch new tranches of satellites every two years. The Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture involves seven layers, which include a mesh network of hundreds of optically interconnected satellites in orbit that make up its “transport” layer. There will also be tracking, custody, deterrence, navigation, battle management and support layers.

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