WASHINGTON — The Space Development Agency awarded a $64 million contract to Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) to develop a software applications factory for the agency’s low Earth orbit constellation.

The contract, announced June 8, is for the agency’s BMC3 application factory, short for Battle Management Command, Control and Communications. 

BMC3 is the on-orbit data processing and computing system for the Transport Layer of communications satellites that the Space Development Agency (SDA) plans to deploy over the next several years. 

SAIC will not build an actual factory but a cloud-based development process to design, test and update software applications using a repeatable path. The system also has to provide extra layers of cybersecurity to protect classified information.  

The BMC3 software applications will be developed by multiple vendors. 

LEO layered architecture

SDA, an organization under the U.S. Space Force, is building a layered network of military satellites. The Transport Layer will serve as a tactical network to move data to users around the world, communicating classified data such as early warnings of missile launches.

The constellation, which SDA calls the proliferated warfighter space architecture, includes a Transport Layer of interconnected communications satellites and a Tracking Layer of missile-detection and warning sensor satellites.

Michael LaRouche, president of SAIC’s national security and space sector, said the company’s cloud-based solution “will deliver software through a DevSecOps process to a constellation of hundreds of low Earth orbit satellites.”

This approach “weaves together command and control, secure cloud and space systems integration,” he said in a news release. 

To support time-sensitive operations, he said, BMC3 software applications will process data on orbit and manage the dissemination of data to users. The applications factory also has to be able to quickly test and integrate upgraded software on satellites. 

SAIC has to provide a so-called “secure interoperable middleware” layer to protect software from cyber intrusions. 

SDA requires the contractor to “establish software development capabilities to securely and rapidly field mission applications developed by BMC3 ecosystem participants in support of Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) objectives.”

JADC2 is the Defense Department’s strategy to connect weapons systems and platforms so they can operate as a seamless network. 

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...