Space Development Agency to consider commercial LEO options to augment DoD network

By Sandra Erwin,
Publishd by Space News, 17 August 2023

SpaceX, Kuiper, Aalyria were selected to conduct three-month studies

WASHINGTON — SpaceX, Kuiper Government Solutions and Aalyria Technologies were selected for market-research studies on how commercial systems could add capacity to the military’s future low Earth orbit constellation. 

The U.S. Space Force’s Space Development Agency announced Aug. 17 that the companies will conduct three-month studies. The agency said it wants to better understand the industry’s capabilities to provide “LEO backhaul” services.

The agency is paying a total of $1.6 million to the three companies to conduct the studies. SpaceX operates the Starlink giant broadband constellation. Kuiper plans to start deploying Amazon’s broadband constellation over the next few years. Aalyria is a Google spinoff focused on network orchestration technologies for mesh communications networks.

Commercial options to ‘add resilience’

SDA is building a layered network of satellites known as the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture. It includes a Transport Layer of interconnected communications satellites and a Tracking Layer of missile-detection and early-warning sensor satellites.

“The studies will examine connecting commercial or other existing LEO systems to the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture to provide further resiliency by quickly moving broadband data between edge and main networks worldwide,” SDA said.

These studies on LEO backhaul capability will inform potential acquisitions of these services, said the agency. “SDA is interested in options that leverage, to the maximum extent possible, existing or planned commercial, optically-interconnected orbital mesh network and ground infrastructure.”

The contracts were awarded under the Space Development Agency’s System, Technologies, and Emerging Capabilities (STEC) Broad Agency Announcement.

See: Original Article