WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force announced July 24 it selected 16 companies that will compete for low Earth orbit satellite services contracts. 

Under an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract, vendors will compete for up to $900 million worth of task orders over the next five years. Each contractor is guaranteed $2,000. 

The 16 selected vendors are ARINC Inc.; Artel LLC; Capella Federal; BlackSky; SES Space & Defense; Hughes Network Systems; Inmarsat Government; KGS LLC; Intelsat General Communications; OneWeb; PAR Government; RiteNet Corp.; Satcom Direct Government Inc.; SpaceX; Trace Systems Inc.; and UltiSat Inc.

Wide range of LEO-based services

The contract for LEO-based satellite services is run by the Space Systems Command’s Commercial Satellite Communications Office (CSCO). 

Task orders will be awarded for a wide range of services, including high-speed broadband, synthetic aperture radar imaging, space domain awareness; and alternative positioning, navigation and timing.

CSCO is part of the Space Systems Command’s new commercial services marketplace known as the Commercial Space Office

‘Multiple partner’ contracts

This particular IDIQ is a “multiple partner/multiple award” contract model that requires vendors to team up. “This approach promises to deliver capabilities to the warfighter faster and at lower cost compared to traditional ‘one contract per mission’ partner/task order,” the Space Systems Command said.

“This is a transformational strategy that will allow government and industry to partner more quickly and more broadly to take advantage of the rapid innovation that’s happening in the commercial satcom sector,” said Clare Hopper, head of the CSCO office. 

The vendors were competitively selected. The Space Systems Command said 25 proposals were received.

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...