L3Harris has received permission from the US Space Development Agency to build 16 new Earth observation satellites. They will be designed to track hypersonic rocket launches.
L3Harris to build new satellites
L3Harris, one of the largest military contractors for the US government, announced on December 19 that its Tracking Layer Tranche 1 missile surveillance satellite project has passed all technical tests. The Space Development Agency has approved the project and they are now starting production of the satellites, whose main feature is the ability to track hypersonic missiles.
The Space Development Agency is a division of the US Space Force. It is responsible for the creation of the multi-level satellite system Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture. The system consists of several components that should not only monitor the Earth’s surface, but also quickly transmit information about detected threats.
L3Harris is developing one of the components of this system called Tracking Layer Tranche 1. Back in 2022, they received a contract worth $700 million and have now shown everyone what they propose to create for this amount. In total, the system they created will consist of 16 vehicles.
Tracking hypersonic missiles
The main task of Tracking Layer Tranche 1 is to track hypersonic cruise missiles. These vehicles have a speed of up to 15 thousand km/h. They are being actively developed by the main adversaries of the United States — China and Russia — and the US military considers them to be perhaps the greatest threat to itself. Here you can read about how Russia uses this type of weapon in Ukraine.
And in order to reduce this threat, L3Harris is creating its own satellites. They have already created four satellites that were supposed to be launched this year, but due to a number of problems, their launch has been postponed to 2024.
In general, all Tracking Layer Tranche 1 satellites should be in space by the end of 2025. In addition to L3Harris, Raytheon RTX also produces them under a separate contract.
Based on materials: spacenews.com