Space Development Agency’s missile-tracking satellites on hold as Raytheon files new protest

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The Space Development Agency agreed to re-evaluate the original proposals but will not allow the companies to resubmit new bids.

WASHINGTON — The procurement of eight missile-tracking satellites by the Space Development Agency remains on hold amid a new protest filed by Raytheon. 

Both Airbus and Raytheon on Oct. 28 and Nov. 3, respectively, filed protests with the Government Accountability Office challenging the Space Development Agency’s Oct. 5 contract awards to L3Harris and SpaceX. In order to resolve the protests, the Space Development Agency offered to to re-evaluate contractor bids.

After the agency agreed to this corrective action, the Government Accountability Office dismissed both Airbus’ and Raytheon’s protests Nov. 30. But the Space Development Agency has not been able to start the re-evaluation of proposals because Raytheon filed another protest on Nov. 30 challenging the agency’s corrective action. A spokesperson said the SDA could not comment on the nature of the protest. 

On Oct. 5 the Space Development Agency awarded SpaceX a $149 million contract and L3Harris a $193.5 million contract to each build four satellites to detect and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles. These eight satellites are known as Tracking Layer Tranche 0.

It’s unknown how many proposals were submitted for the Tracking Layer Tranche 0 contract. According to sources, the Space Development Agency agreed to re-evaluate the original proposals but will not allow the companies to resubmit new bids. The agency wants to launch these satellites in late 2022. 

Raytheon did not respond to questions regarding the protest.

Debra Facktor, head of Airbus U.S. space business, told SpaceNews Dec 7 that the company “appreciates the Space Development Agency’s decision to take corrective action in the Tracking Layer Tranche 0 procurement.”

Airbus offered the Arrow satellite bus made at the Airbus OneWeb Satellites’ manufacturing facility in Florida.

“We remain confident that our proposal based on the Arrow commodity satellite bus,” said Facktor. “It fits SDA’s evaluation criteria for commercial commoditized buses manufactured at scale.”