WASHINGTON — Space electronics supplier SEAKR Engineering, based in Colorado, was tapped by Lockheed Martin to help develop a satellite communications payload for the U.S. Space Force.

SEAKR will join Lockheed Martin’s team for the Protected Tactical Satcom (PTS) program, industry sources told SpaceNews. The companies are expected to officially announce the partnership this week.

The U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center awarded PTS contracts to Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman to develop jam-resistant communications payloads to be deployed on dedicated geostationary satellites, commercially hosted payloads and coalition partner satellites.

SMC plans to select two payloads to be launched in 2024 for on-orbit demonstrations that will last three to five years.

Prototype payloads from the three teams will be evaluated over the next two to three years before SMC decides which two of the three will make it to the next phase of the competition.

All three PTS prime contractors are longtime suppliers of military satellites and payloads. Lockheed Martin manufactures the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) military communications satellite, Boeing builds the military’s Wideband Global Satcom satellites and Northrop Grumman developed the AEHF payloads under contract to Lockheed Martin.

The PTS awards are so-called Other Transaction Authority agreements that require prime contractors to either co-invest in the program or partner with nontraditional suppliers. SMC has used more OTA contracts in recent years to promote diversity in its supplier base beyond incumbent contractors.

SEAKR was chosen by Lockheed as its nontraditional partner for the PTS program.

SEAKR designs and manufactures processors, data handling systems, digital communications payloads, and other hardware for space systems. For the PTS program, the company will adapt technologies used in its Wolverine RF processing platform.

SEAKR and Lockheed Martin have previously worked together on a commercial protected communications payload for the Hellas Sat-4/SaudiGeoSat-1 (HS-4/SGS-1) program.

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...