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Rocket Lab Wins Contract to Build 18 Satellites for US Agency

Rocket Lab
Credit: Rocket Lab

Ibadan, 2 January 2024. – The U.S. Government has selected Rocket Lab to design, manufacture, deliver, and operate 18 space vehicles through a contract worth up to $515 million. Rocket Lab disclosed the award in a December 21 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

According to Rocket Lab’s SEC filing, the contract includes a base amount of $489 million, with incentives and options worth $26 million. Furthermore, work under the agreement will begin immediately with the delivery of the space vehicles to the customer for launch slated for 2027, operation of the satellites through 2030, and an option to operate the satellites through 2033.

While Rocket Lab has not yet identified the customer among the US Government, experts have identified the client as the Space Development Agency. According to Spacenews, SDA Director Derek Tournear, speaking at the National Security Space Association event earlier in December, said the agency was negotiating a contract with an unspecified supplier for 18 satellites to expand the U.S. military low Earth orbit constellation.

The Transport Layer Tranche 2 Beta is the SDA’s latest iteration of its low-Earth orbit Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture (PWSA). It will comprise communications satellites to enable beyond-line-of-sight connectivity for military forces on the ground. The T2TL architecture aims to grow to a constellation of 90 satellites, and the Agency has awarded about $1.5 billion in contracts to Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman for 72 Beta satellites.

The Transport Layer Tranche 2 Beta satellites will carry radios using the UHF (Ultra High Frequency) and S-band frequencies that military and intelligence units rely upon for voice and low-speed data transmissions. This will consequently help provide low-latency, high-volume data connectivity to support U.S. military missions worldwide.

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