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Tracking Layer Tranche-0 WFOV 5, ..., 8

The Tracking Layer is an experimental military satellite constellation, which will provide global indications, warning, tracking, and targeting of advanced missile threats, including hypersonic missile systems.

SDA announced October 5 two contract awards for the first generation of the Tracking Layer. These awards represent the next major and highly visible steps toward developing the National Defense Space Architecture’s inaugural tranche (called Tranche 0). Once fully operational, the SDA Tracking Layer will consist of a proliferated heterogeneous constellation of Wide Field of View (WFOV) space vehicles (SVs) that provide persistent global coverage and custody capability combined with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) Medium Field of View (MFOV) SVs that provide precision global access capability. This set of contract awards will initiate the development of the first eight low-cost proliferated WFOV SVs. The capability demonstrated by the Tracking Layer Tranche 0 will provide missile warning and tracking information to national defense authorities, and tracking and cueing data for missile defense elements.

SDA’s Tracking Layer is exploring technical areas including, but not limited to:

  • Integrated, hybrid architectures including existing and planned missile warning / missile defense (MW/MD) capabilities,
  • Significant reductions in size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C) and/or significant performance improvements over traditional MW/MD hardware, software, algorithms, subsystem, component concepts or designs,
  • Identification and exploration of novel MW/MD sensing concepts or design, and
  • Enabling disciplines and technologies such as systems engineering, program security, cybersecurity, logistics, or mission and quality assurance.

Each satellite will have a “wide field of view” overhead persistent infrared (OPIR) sensor capable of detecting and tracking advanced missile threats from low Earth orbit. The satellites will also be equipped with optical crosslinks to pass data to the Transport Layer relay satellites.

In October 2020, SDA awarded contracts to SpaceX and L3Harris for each four Tranche 0 satellites. These are to be launched in 2022.

L3Harris bid a complete satellite with the bus and payload produced in-house.

Following Tranche 0, the SDA plans to continuously upgrade and add to its on orbit constellation in two year cycles, with Tranche 1 coming online in FY2024, Tranche 2 supplementing the system in FY2026.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Early warning
Operator: SDA
Contractors: L3-Harris
Equipment:
Configuration:
Propulsion: ?
Power: Solar arrays, batteries
Lifetime:
Mass:
Orbit: 950 km × 950 km, 80-89.5°
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
Tracking Layer Tranche-0 WFOV 5 - 2022 Va SLC-4E Falcon-9 v1.2 (Block 5) with Transport Layer Tr.-0 A-Cl. 1, ..., 7, Transport Layer Tr.-0 B-Cl. 1, ..., 3, Tracking Layer Tr.-0 WFOV 1, 2, Tracking Layer Tr.-0 WFOV 5, 6
Tracking Layer Tranche-0 WFOV 6 - 2022 Va SLC-4E Falcon-9 v1.2 (Block 5) with Transport Layer Tr.-0 A-Cl. 1, ..., 7, Transport Layer Tr.-0 B-Cl. 1, ..., 3, Tracking Layer Tr.-0 WFOV 1, 2, Tracking Layer Tr.-0 WFOV 5, 6
Tracking Layer Tranche-0 WFOV 7 - 2023 Va SLC-4E Falcon-9 v1.2 (Block 5) with Transport Layer Tr.-0 A-Cl. 8, ..., 14, Transport Layer Tr.-0 B-Cl. 4, ..., 6, Tracking Layer Tr.-0 WFOV 3, 4, Tracking Layer Tr.-0 WFOV 7, 8
Tracking Layer Tranche-0 WFOV 8 - 2023 Va SLC-4E Falcon-9 v1.2 (Block 5) with Transport Layer Tr.-0 A-Cl. 8, ..., 14, Transport Layer Tr.-0 B-Cl. 4, ..., 6, Tracking Layer Tr.-0 WFOV 3, 4, Tracking Layer Tr.-0 WFOV 7, 8