WASHINGTON — Terran Orbital, a manufacturer of small satellites, announced March 5 it won a $15 million contract for hardware and integration services in support of U.S. Space Force experiments. 

The contract was awarded by the defense contractor Axient Corp. on behalf of the Air Force Research Laboratory. Axient in September 2023 won a contract from AFRL to manage small-satellite military experiments.

Terran Orbital got a task order from Axient to supply two of the company’s Ambassador-class satellite platforms and support equipment, and to integrate payloads for upcoming U.S. Space Force missions. 

The satellites will be integrated with a platform known as ESPA Grande, a payload adapter designed to facilitate rideshare missions by providing additional payload capacity on national security launch vehicles. 

ESPA Grande buses are often used for small national security payloads. Terran Orbital’s Ambassador spacecraft is the largest allowed by the ESPA Grande interface for rideshare missions.

Delivery within 12 months

Terran Orbital’s chief executive Marc Bell said the Ambassador platforms for this contract, to be delivered within 12 months, are similar to those provided for the Space Development Agency’s Tranche 1 Transport Layer satellites produced by Lockheed Martin.

AFRL, located at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, awarded Axient, based in Huntsville, Alabama, a $25 million task order in September 2023 for “integrated space experiments” to be performed over the next three years. Axient awarded Terran Orbital the $15 million task order in December 2023. 

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...