Space Development Agency retains contracts for L3Harris, SpaceX after a dispute

Space Development Agency retains contracts for L3Harris, SpaceX after a dispute

The Space Development Agency again gave SpaceX a $149 million deal after a set of contract complaints, as well as L3Harris a $193.5 million deal to construct four spacecraft each to monitor and map ballistic as well as hypersonic missiles. The contracts were initially awarded to both firms on October 5. Still, after rivals Airbus and Raytheon lodged complaints with the Government Accountability Office opposing the awards, work had to be suspended. The Space Development Corporation decided to re-evaluate vendor bids to address the protests. The GAO rejected Airbus’ November 30 complaint. Two further objections were filed by Raytheon as well as the last one was dismissed on December 22.

Jennifer Elzea, the spokesperson for the Space Development Agency, stated in a January 7 announcement that the work on the eight satellites, classified as Tracking Layer Tranche 0, resumed on December 28 after a temporary stop-work ban was removed. “After the initial awards were received, the SDA introduced a response plan for Tracking Layer Tranche 0 contest,” she stated. “The re-evaluation verified the original decision making reported in October and confirmed that the plans by SpaceX as well as L3Harris Technologies provided the government the best deal.” Elzea said the department “is satisfied that the re-evaluation has culminated in a good outcome for all relevant parties.” The SDA has plans to deploy Tranche 0 satellites by the end of the year 2022. 

Initially, they had informed L3Harris as well as SpaceX to stop all work on the program. In late 2022, the Space Development Agency set a target of launching Tranche 0 satellites. How long it’ll take to settle the dispute and whether the timetable will be kept is not clear, the Agency added. Elzea stated the Agency aims to “make every attempt to maintain the National Defense Space Architecture Tracking Layer on schedule, taking into account the privileges that contractors have under Federal Acquisition Regulation.”

The Space Development Agency requested bids to combine a spacecraft bus with a missile warning sensor as well as deploy it to the low Earth orbit by the end of 2021. This was in June 2020. The June 5 request was to establish sensor algorithms for a possible missile detection network in the space for a “monitor phenomenology test.” The experiment is an early phase in the SDA’s attempt to launch in the year 2022 a large constellation of the low-orbiting satellites to detect and track hypersonic missiles maneuvering that Russia and China are supposed to field in the immediate future by the Pentagon.