Space Development Agency renames constellation to reflect focus on U.S. warfighter

by
SDA said the rebranding does not reflect any change to the mission

WASHINGTON — The Space Development Agency is renaming its planned network of military satellites “Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture,” the agency announced Jan. 23.

SDA, a former Defense Department agency that is now part of the U.S. Space Force, previously used the name “National Defense Space Architecture” to describe a low Earth orbit constellation of small satellites scheduled to start launching in March.

The layered architecture planned by SDA will serve as a tactical network to move data to users around the world. A Transport Layer will communicate early warnings of missile launches and the location of those missiles detected by a Tracking Layer of sensor satellites. 

The rebranding “does not reflect any change to the mission,” an SDA spokesperson told SpaceNews.

The Defense Department established SDA in 2019 to accelerate the procurement of space capabilities and tap into the innovation of the commercial sector. 

The agency said the new name better captures SDA’s focus on delivering “needed space-based capabilities to the joint warfighter to support terrestrial missions through development, fielding, and operation of a proliferated low Earth orbit constellation of satellites.”

The constellation’s original name “did not accurately convey its current scope and purpose,” said SDA. The agency “will continue to quickly deliver needed space-based capabilities to the joint warfighter to support terrestrial missions through development, fielding and operation of the PWSA.”

SDA works with a “warfighter council” of military leaders who inform the design and features of the Transport Layer and the Tracking Layer. “We want to make sure that we address our customers,” SDA Director Derek Tournear said

The agency has grown to about 220 employees, including civilians, military and contractors. It’s headquartered in the Pentagon but its two satellite operations centers will be at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, and Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. 

Frank Calvelli, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for space acquisitions who oversees SDA, has been a champion of SDA’s business model and procurement strategy. The agency buys increments of satellites in “tranches” every two years from multiple suppliers. 

“SDA will be key to rapidly delivering space capability to our warfighters,” Calvelli said.