In January 2001, a commission headed by then US Defense Secretary-designate Donald Rumsfeld warned about a possible “space Pearl Harbor” in which a potential enemy would launch a surprise attack against US-based military space assets, disabling them. These assets include communications satellites and the GPS system, which is crucial for precision attack missiles and a host of military systems.
“The US is more dependent on space than any other nation. Yet the threat to the US and its allies in and from space does not command the attention it merits,” the commission warned.
One of the systems that grew out of the commission’s report was the Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS) project, which is developing a constellation of satellites to provide the US military with space situational awareness using visible sensors. After a slow start, SBSS Block 10 reached a significant milestone in August 2012 with its Initial Operational Capability, followed by full operational capability less than a year later. But lack of funding casts as shadow on whether this capability will be maintained beyond 2017. By 2014/15 the Air Force worked on a stopgap project as well as an effort to obtain proper funding for follow on satellites to be launched at the start of next decade.
The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) awarded indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contracts to 3 small business qualifiers to provide advisory and assistance services to MDA’s Quality, Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate. Each contract has an ordering ceiling of $209.6 million.
The contractors will assist the directorate in assessing the engineering, technology, production and programmatic practices/ processes used to develop and operate the Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system. MDA is developing a layered BDM system that is designed to destroy enemy missiles by engaging them in all phases of flight (see graphic).
The MDA has come under criticism for the slow pace of BMD development, cost overruns, questionable auditing practices, and repeated test failures. The 3 contracts are part of an effort by MDA to streamline is contracting processes. The winners of the contracts are:
Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) in McLean, VA received a prime contract from the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Missile and Space Intelligence Center (MSIC) to provide signature measurement, prediction, and analysis support.
US weapons developers require [pdf] signature measurement of foreign missiles and space weapons to support detection, early warning, discrimination, tracking, engagement, and assessment.
The single award, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract has a 3-year base period of performance, two 1-year options, and a total value of more than $19 million if all options are exercised.
Based at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL, MSIC manages and produces scientific and technical intelligence on foreign missile and space systems.
Wyle Information Systems in McLean, VA received a $13.9 million indefinite delivery/ indefinite quantity contract modification to provide technical services and space operations support to the Space Innovation and Development Center located at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado.
The contract is directed toward examining, assessing, and developing the means to integrate national system and US DoD space systems support to enhance combat and research and development capabilities within the US Air Force. This includes integrating existing and advanced-technology weapons, platforms and special test facilities as well as the technical expertise such as knowledge of emerging space-based technologies and systems.
Space Innovation and Development Center at Schriever Air Force Base manages the contract (FA2550-01-D-0003, P00026). The center’s mission is to advance warfare through rapid innovation, integration, training testing, and experimentation…
As video communications is integrated into robots, soldiers, and UAVs, and network-centric warfare becomes the organizing principle of American warfighting, front-line demands for bandwidth are rising faster than the US military can add it. The Transformation Communications Satellite (TSAT) System is part of a larger effort by the US military to address that need, and close the gap.
DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record – and TSAT is certainly significant. The final price tag on the entire program has been quoted at anywhere from $14-25 billion through 2016, including the satellites, the ground operations system, the satellite operations center and the cost of operations and maintenance. Lockheed Martin and Boeing each won over $600 million in risk reduction contracts to develop key TSAT SS satellite system technologies, and TSAT’s $2 billion TMOS ground-based network operations contract was already underway.
The TSAT constellation’s central role in next-generation US military infrastructure makes it worthy of in-depth treatment – but its survival was never assured. There was always a risk that outside events and incremental competitors could spell its end, just as they spelled the end of Motorola’s infamous Iridium project. This FOCUS article examines that possibility, even as it offers an overview of the US military’s vision for its communications infrastructure, how TSAT fits, the program’s challenges, and complete coverage of contracts and significant events.
The latest developments revolve around the end of the program. Despite a positive recent report from the GAO, TMOS/TSAT are being canceled outright as part of the program’s planned termination:
Booz-Allen and Hamilton in McLean, VA received a $5.5 million contract modification for advisory and assistance services that focus on acquisition program management and systems engineering/ analysis capability. This will support future system programs that include, but are not limited to: land based strategic defense, common air vehicle (the hypersonic spaceplane portion of the FALCON program), intercontinental ballistic missile demonstration/ validation, integrated applications programs, and ICBM long-range requirements planning studies.
This action exercises option one of the contract, and implements a period of performance from December 1, 2005 through November 30, 2006. The location of performance is Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH. Headquarters 526th ICBM Systems Wing at Hill Air Force Base, UT issued the contract (FA8204-05-C-0022/P00002).
With procurement officers increasingly over-stretched, the Missile Defense Agency’s Contracting Directorate awarded a $7.7 million deal to CACI Dynamic Systems of Arlington, VA to help take the load off of its own acquisition, contracting and support functions. The deal will run for a year. (HQ0006-05-C-0027)
Meanwhile, the competition for the overall USAF/DARPA Small Launch Vehicle program has narrowed to three companies: Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), AirLaunch LLC, and Lockheed Martin Corp. A fourth Phase 2 competitor, Microcosm of El Segundo, CA, recently broke up its subcontractor team, terminated arrangements with consultants working on the Falcon effort, and laid off about 15 of its 50 employees based on its assumption that it has lost out in the competition. Next phase awards are expected in the near future, and the program continues to evolve in other ways. At present…
Meanwhile, Boeing Satellite Systems in Segundo, CA received a $19.5 million cost-plus fixed-fee/ completion contract. The goal is a proposal within the broad agency announcement (BAA) funding guidelines that defines requirements to provide for demonstration of “large structure deployment and control from space.”