WASHINGTON — Terran Orbital announced Oct. 24 it will build 36 satellite buses for Lockheed Martin, a strategic investor in the company and critical customer.  

Lockheed Martin is producing satellites for the Space Development Agency, an organization under the U.S. Space Force that is building a mesh network of military satellites in low Earth orbit. The 36 buses are for satellites that SDA ordered for its Transport Layer Tranche 2 Beta portion of the constellation. Lockheed Martin’s contract is worth $816 million. SDA also ordered 36 Beta satellites from Northrop Grumman.

Lockheed Martin to date has won orders for 88 satellites from SDA, including portions of the Transport Layer Tranche 0 and Tranche 1 constellations. 

SDA’s Transport Layer is a secure high-bandwidth data transport network.

Tranche 2 to launch in 2026

Terran Orbital, based in Boca Raton, Florida, manufactures satellite buses in Irvine, California.

Lockheed Martin assembles the satellites and integrates the payloads at its new factory in Denver. Colorado. 

“We congratulate Lockheed Martin on another big contract win in support of SDA’s Transport Layer mission.”, said Marc Bell, Terran Orbital’s chairman and CEO.

Terran Orbital delivered 10 buses for the Transport Layer Tranche 0 and is currently producing 42 buses for the Transport Layer Tranche 1, scheduled to launch in late 2024. 

The Transport Layer Tranche 2 Beta satellites are projected to launch in 2026.

Terran Orbital last month announced plans to expand its production capacity and speed up delivery timelines. “You might see a few rapid response test programs announced later this year,” Bell told SpaceNews

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...