COLORADO SPRINGS – Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, Space Development Agency Director Derek Tournear and other defense officials on April 4 toured the manufacturing facilities of Denver-based York Space Systems, one of three companies selected to build satellites for the Defense Department’s internet-in-space constellation. 

DoD’s Space Development Agency awarded York Space a $382 million contract to produce 42 satellites for the Tranche 1 Transport Layer. The company will build these satellites on its LX-class commercial bus. 

York Space was also selected by SDA in August 2020 to provide 10 satellites for Tranche 0 and expects to deliver those later this year. Tranche 0 is projected to launch in March 2023 and Tranche 1 in September 2024.

The satellites produced by York will be part of a large constellation of transport satellites from multiple manufacturers. The Space Development Agency also selected Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to supply satellites for Tranche 1. 

To meet military and commercial demand, York is opening up a second manufacturing facility in the Denver Tech Center that the company says will triple the capacity of York’s original facility to 540 S-class and LX-class satellites per year.

“We are happy that the government is taking advantage of the commercial sector’s investment in production lines, supply chains and speed,” said Dirk Wallinger, CEO of York Space. 

Further, the company in May announced it has begun planning the construction of a new Manufacturing Technology Center next door to the existing headquarters. Wallinger said the new facility is only in the early stages of development and the company is still working out the details and securing permits. 

In the new facility, York Space said it will produce as many as 80 satellites simultaneously, compared with the current production plant where employees can build 20 satellites at a time.  This facility will have dedicated secure areas to support classified satellite design and integration work, Wallinger said. 

As the company grows its government and commercial business, he said, York Space plans to hire up to an additional 450 employees in the Denver metro area over the next two years.

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...