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SN Military.Space Sandra Erwin

The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center last month put out a call for industry ideas for a “Modular Enterprise Spacecraft Bus Procurement.

Translation: The newly reorganized SMC 2.0 is not buying satellites the same ole way, and the industry had better get on with the program.

According to the RFI — for which responses were due April 3 — SMC is interested in acquiring common satellite buses for multiple strategic mission payloads: Evolved Strategic SATCOM (ESS) for protected strategic communications, Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) for missile warning, and Global Positioning System (GPS) for position, navigation and timing (PNT) and the Nuclear detection System (NDS) payload.

The plan is to build constellations faster and more efficiently, the RFI says. Buses would use a modular open-systems approach so designs can be upgraded as new sensors or instruments become available. “Modular scalable enterprise buses would enable a higher fielding rate to support frequent, regular technology insertions for capability refresh, enhanced resiliency, and enable other benefits that can be derived from continuous and agile production.”

The RFI asked bus and payload suppliers to propose ideas on how the procurement of common buses and modular payloads could be carried out. Selected proposals will shape SMC’s plans to establish a consortium of bus and payload providers that would work together on common standards and interfaces.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...