Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) has been selected by, and is under contract with, the Space Development Agency (SDA) to design and build 18 Tranche 2 Transport Layer-Beta Data Transport Satellites (T2TL – Beta).
Rocket Lab will act as prime contractor for the $515 million firm-fixed price agreement to lead the design, development, production, test, and operations of the satellites, including procurement and integration of the payload subsystems. The contract establishes Rocket Lab’s position as a leading satellite prime contractor, providing supply chain diversity to the Department of Defense (DoD) through vertical integration. The contract comprises $489 million base plus $26 million of incentives and options and will be carried out by Rocket Lab National Security (RLNS), the company’s wholly owned subsidiary created to serve the unique needs of the U.S. defense and intelligence community and its allies.
The SDA is procuring satellites in two-year “tranches” to build out a proliferated constellation in LEO to deliver needed space-based capabilities to the joint war fighter. The T2TL – Beta satellites, part of the Tranche 2 program, will be integrated into SDA’s Transport Layer to provide assured, resilient, low-latency military data and connectivity worldwide to meet DoD needs.
“This contract marks the beginning of Rocket Lab’s new era as a leading satellite prime. We’ve methodically executed on our strategy of developing and acquiring experienced teams, advanced technology, manufacturing facilities, and a robust spacecraft supply chain to make this possible. It’s exciting to now be delivering this capability for government and commercial customers alike,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck. “SDA’s acquisition approach favors speed, schedule certainty, and affordability to deliver next-generation space capabilities to the nation. We’ve proven Rocket Lab is capable of delivering this across our launch and spacecraft programs and we look forward to delivering it for SDA.”
All 18 satellites will integrate subsystems and components built in-house by Rocket Lab, including solar panels, structures, star trackers, reaction wheels, radio, flight software, avionics, and launch dispenser. This high degree of vertical integration gives Rocket Lab a rare level of control over supply chain, enabling efficiencies and certainty on cost, schedule and quality. The satellites will be built at Rocket Lab’s advanced spacecraft development and manufacturing complex within the company’s Long Beach headquarters. The facility includes a 12,000 sq. ft. cleanroom and 40,000 sq. ft. of streamlined production and test facilities designed to support constellation class manufacturing and satellite assembly, integration and test for commercial, civil and national security customers. The satellites are scheduled for launch in 2027.
As a leading provider of advanced spacecraft and components, Rocket Lab has a backlog of more than 40 satellites in development and production. Rocket Lab satellite technology and components have been integrated into more than 1,700 satellite missions globally.SDA makes 3rd Award for 18 additional Beta variant T2TL smallsats
SDA makes 3rd award for 18 additional Beta variant Smallsats for T2TL of the PWSA
Agency selects new Tranche 2 team member to produce variant of data relay and tactical communication space vehicles
The Space Development Agency (SDA) has awarded a prototype agreement with a total value of approximately $515 million to build and operate 18 Tranche 2 Transport Layer (T2TL) – Beta variant prototype space vehicles, which will join the previously-awarded 72 Beta space vehicles to form the foundation of Tranche 2 of the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture.
SDA awarded the firm-fixed priced Other Transaction Authority (OTA) agreement to Rocket Lab National Security LLC, Long Beach, California, to deliver and operate a T2TL – Beta prototype constellation in two orbital planes of nine satellites each, launching no later than July 2027.
“We welcome Rocket Lab as the newest member of Team SDA and our third performer on the T2TL- Beta program,” said Derek Tournear, SDA director. “Their selection as a new prime and bus provider demonstrates SDA’s dedication to our mission, which includes development of a growing, innovative marketplace necessary to sustain SDA’s proliferated architecture on two-year spirals.”
In August 2023, SDA signed two OTA agreements, with a total value of approximately $1.5 billion to build 72 T2TL – Beta variant space vehicles. The earlier planes of the T2TL – Beta constellation will begin to launch in September 2026. The third award increases the size of the T2TL – Beta constellation to 90 SVs. The constellation will provide global communication access and deliver persistent global encrypted connectivity to support missions like beyond line of sight targeting and missile warning and missile tracking of advance missile threats.
SDA determined the need to move some satellites from the planned Gamma variant to the Beta program to support mission utility through further proliferation of tactical satellite communication (TACSATCOM) capabilities. The additional 18 T2TL-Beta SVs will be operated from lower inclination orbits than the first 72 T2TL – Beta SVs. This enhances the overall robustness of the capability delivered by the T2TL SVs.
The T2TL features multiple space vehicle and mission configuration variants procured through a multi-solicitation and multi-vendor acquisition approach. In October 2023, SDA completed awards for 100 T2TL – Alpha variant SVs, which will provide global communications to support missions like beyond-line-of-sight targeting and missile warning and missile tracking of advance missile threats as part of the PWSA. SDA expects to release the T2TL Gama solicitation later next year. SDA is currently in the source selection phase for T2 Tracking Layer.
Once completely fielded, Tranche 2 will provide global persistence for all capabilities in Tranche 1 plus demonstration of advanced tactical data links and future proliferated missions. The T2 constellation will consist of approximately 270 operational Transport and Tracking Layer satellites.
The Transport Layer will be the space backbone for the Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) infrastructure with low-latency data transport, sensor-to-shooter connectivity, and TACSATCOM direct to platform.