SpaceX, L3Harris pursue hypersonic missile defense system
by Paul Brinkmann
Washington DC (UPI) Jan 4, 2021
SpaceX has won a $150 million contract to launch the U.S. Department of Defense's first batch of hypersonic missile defense satellites, the second contract -- for roughly the same amount -- that has been awarded for their development.
SpaceX and Florida-based defense firm L3Harris Technologies are competing and collaborating on the project, which is designed for the rapid development of a globe-circling network with dozens of satellites.
Lockheed Martin and Denver-based satellite firm York Space Systems also are building spacecraft for the network.
"It's a response to the evolving hypersonic abilities from Russia and China and others potentially," George Nacouzi, a senior engineer at the Rand Corporation, a non-profit think tank for the defense industry, told UPI.
"The project is focused on launching a demonstration mission now, but I don't know if they'll build the whole system as intended," Nacouzi said.
SpaceX and L3Harris each are building four missile detection satellites for the first launch, expected in 2022.
Lockheed and York are developing communication satellites that would relay signals about a hypersonic missile's location and potential path.
Although competitors, the firms are required to collaborate on ensuring the satellites work together.
"Speed is essential because such a weapon could travel halfway around the world in less than an hour," Nacouzi said.
SpaceX typically doesn't comment on such projects, but L3Harris executive Bill Gattle said the company has prepared for years to develop large numbers of spacecraft for hypersonic missile defense.
The company has adapted infrared sensors used in its weather detection satellites for the new spacecraft, which will be part of the United States' new planned National Defense Space Architecture, said Gattle, who is president of L3Harris' space systems business.
"The whole industry is moving from the days of building a few satellites at a time to building hundreds of them," Gattle said, referring to constellations of hundreds of satellites launched by SpaceX and similar plans by OneWeb and Amazon.
"We've recognized that we have to become more efficient, and we've already built hundreds of payloads for satellites," Gattle said.
He said the satellite system, coordinated by the defense department's new Space Development Agency, has revolutionized space and defense contracting by moving faster than ever on such a large government project.
The agency was founded in 2019 to ensure rapid response to new threats, said Jennifer Elzea, chief of strategic engagement for the agency.
"It is SDA's desire to create a market rather than a set of programs, so all prospective performers can build capabilities" and bid on future projects, Elzea said.
Eventually, the SDA's hypersonic detection system would have up to 150 satellites in space.
mu Space to push Thai space industry, planning to build its first spaceship in 2021
Bangkok, Thailand (SPX) Dec 30, 2020
2020 was the time when the space scene was lively again, with the Thai government pushing for space-activity-related legislation and creating mechanisms to promote and support both the government and the private sector to develop the space industry together, which is one of the target industries in the new S-curve that will increase Thailand's investment capacity and its role in developing the space industry and ultimately add values to the Thai economy. The private sector also plays an important ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.