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ESS 1 [Northrop Grumman]

ESS 1 (Evolved Strategic Satellite) is a prototype for a jam-resistant military communications satellite built by Northrop Grumman to supplement and eventually replace the existing Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellites.

Boeing and Northrop Grumman will be developing competing designs for the ESS program. The Space and Missile Systems Center announced the contract award to Northrop Grumman on 16 September 2020 for the Evolved Strategic Satellite Communications program, known as Evolved Strategic Satcom. During the rapid prototyping phase, the company will deliver the preliminary design for ESS’ space segment and a ground-based demonstration. The satellite has to be completed by May 2025.

The ESS program continues the strategic satcom mission of the AEHF constellation. This includes providing survivable, global, secure, protected, and jam-resistant communications for high-priority military operations and national command authorities.

ESS satellites will interoperate with, and eventually replace AEHF’s mid-latitude system capability, extending its communications capability to the North Polar region.

The Space and Missile Systems Center in March launched the sixth and final AEHF satellite. SMC is studying alternatives for a future satcom architecture. According to Space Force budget documents, the plan is to award up to three competitive rapid-prototyping contracts for ESS.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Comsat
Operator: US Space Force (USSF)
Contractors: Northrop Grumman
Equipment: ?
Propulsion: ?
Power: 2 deployable solar arrays, batteries
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
ESS 1 - 2025 CC

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