SDA Renames Military Satellite Constellation

SDA renames its constellation to emphasize its support role.

Credit: Northrop Grumman

The U.S. Space Development Agency (SDA) has changed the name of its in-development network of satellites to the “Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture.”

The military satellite constellation previously was known as the “National Defense Space Architecture,” but was renamed to emphasize the agency’s intent to have the system support terrestrial warfighters, SDA said Jan. 23.

“The spiral development and fielding of SDA’s mesh network has matured successfully, but the constellation’s original name did not accurately convey its current scope and purpose,” the agency says.

The proliferated low-Earth-observation satellite network is to consist of seven different “layers”—types of satellites performing tasks such as communications, missile warning, missile tracking, Earth observation and navigation. The spacecraft are to be interlinked using laser communications systems—for example, enabling a missile tracking satellite to quickly relay its observations to a communications satellite, which would then pass on information to ground systems.

SDA was formed in 2019 to accelerate development and procurement of U.S. Department of Defense satellites using commercial methods and technologies. The agency is set up to deliver “minimum viable product” versions of new satellite technology every two years using “spiral development” methods. SDA was officially absorbed by the U.S. Space Force in October 2022.

The first group of what SDA calls “tracking satellites”–missile warning, tracking and targeting satellites–are scheduled to launch in March. In total, the agency plans to launch hundreds of satellites over the coming decade.

Garrett Reim

Based in Los Angeles, Garrett covers the space sector and advanced technologies that are shaping the future of aerospace and defense, including space startups, advanced air mobility and artificial intelligence.