The U.S. Air Force awarded Space Systems/Loral (SSL) of Palo Alto, Calif., a $4.2 million contract extension to continue developing low-cost satellite communication technologies, according to an Aug. 8 company press release.

The award is for a future Protected Tactical Satellite Communications program, one that would focus on satellite connectivity for unmanned aircraft and command-and-control vehicles on the ground. It is an extension of a contract SSL first won in 2011 and whose total value is now $5.7 million.

“Our extensive history in developing satellite communications systems positions SSL well to take a fresh look at affordable ways to provide advanced communications capability to the warfighter,” Eric Spittle, president of SSL Federal, said in a prepared statement. “The award of this contract option is an excellent endorsement of our success in the first phase of the concept exploration process.” 

The study will help the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, the service’s space acquisition arm, to learn more about commercial-like acquisition processes that could reduce prices and delivery times, the release said.