Additional vendors selected for DoD’s low Earth orbit satellite services contract

Lynk Global operates ‘cell-tower-in-space’ satellites that provide direct-to-standard-phone connectivity. Credit: Lynk Global

By Sandra Erwin,
Published by Space News, 27 November 2023

WASHINGTON — The Defense Information Systems Agency on Nov. 22 published a request for proposals for low Earth orbit satellite-based services. 

Up to $900 million worth of task orders will be awarded over the next five years under an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract. Proposals are due May 31, 2024.

The Proliferated Low Earth Orbit (PLEO) Satellite-Based Services contract, first announced in July,  is run by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) on behalf of the Space Force’s Commercial Satellite Communications Office (CSCO), a central marketplace for satellite services operated by the Space Systems Command.

Four new vendors added

Initially only 16 vendors were selected to compete for task folders under the IDIQ contract: ARINC, Artel, Capella Federal, BlackSky, SES, Hughes, Viasat, KGS, Intelsat General, OneWeb, PAR Government, RiteNet Corporation, Satcom Direct Government, SpaceX, Trace Systems and UltiSat. Since then, four more — AT&T, Honeywell Aerospace, Iridium and Lynk Global — have been added to the roster.

The PLEO contract “supports the Department of Defense’s requirement to provide worldwide, low-latency PLEO services,” said DISA. The IDIQ contracting method allows the Department of Defense, other federal agencies and international allies “to procure fully managed satellite-based services and capabilities for all domains (space, air, land, maritime and cyber) with a consistent, quality-backed, low-latency offering.”

A $70 million task order was awarded to SpaceX in September for Starlink communications services.

More task orders will be awarded for a wide range of services, said the Space Systems Command, including high-speed broadband, synthetic aperture radar imaging, space domain awareness; and alternative positioning, navigation and timing.

The IDIQ is a “multiple partner/multiple award” contract model that encourages vendors to team up. “This approach promises to deliver capabilities to the warfighter faster and at lower cost compared to traditional ‘one contract per mission’ partner/task order,” the command said.

See: Original Article