The Space Development Agency (SDA) seeks industry feedback on Tranche 0 Mission Systems Engineering and Integration (MSE&I). It will comprise 20 satellites to be launched in 2022. “The transport layer, which is what the draft RFP and the industry day was talking about today, is going to be the unifying effort across the department. The Transport Layer will serve as the backbone of the architecture by providing assured, resilient, low-latency military data and connectivity worldwide to a full range of warfighter applications. The key technology that will enable the transport layer are optical inter-satellite cross links, providing approximately 1 Gbps connections between the satellites.Each Transport Layer satellite will have four such cross links — forward, behind, right and left — which will allow them to pass data on to the nearest or next-nearest transport layer satellite operating in the same orbital plane.

It would start with about 20 satellites in 2022 and grow to more than 250 by 2025.

The mission of the initial transport layer is “to demonstrate a capability of a mesh network in space,” Tournear said. To begin the transport layer SDA is requesting $16 million in 2021 and $3.6 billion over the next five years. That is going to be what we use for low latency (communications) to be able to pull these networks together, and that, in essence, is going to be the main unifying truss for the JADC2 and that effort moving forward.

The scope of MSE&I support is delivery of an integrated, interoperable Tranche 0 system-of-systems to include integration of Transport and Tracking space vehicles, Naval Research Laboratory-based ground systems and hardware/software-in-the-loop … SDA’s Transport Layer is envisioned, modeled, and architected as a constellation varying in size from 300 to more than 500 satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) ranging from 750km to 1200km in altitude. The SDA is considering the use of transport layer spacecraft as substrates for other layers, allowing for the integration of appropriate payloads based on each layer’s needs. SDA has completed its risk analysis associated with the development of the Transport Layer.

sda transport layer