The Space Development Agency (SDA) is reaching out to industry for new ideas and emerging technology solutions that can help inform its efforts to build up a preliminary space-based mesh sensor architecture in low-Earth-orbit over the next two years.

The agency, which was stood up in 2019, released a broad agency announcement (BAA) via the contracting opportunity website Jan. 21, in which it seeks “novel architecture concepts, systems, technologies and capabilities” that will help SDA improve its progressive iterations of sensor layers and enable new capability layers to address new emerging or evolving needs. Interested parties have until Jan. 20, 2021, or just about one year, to submit executive summaries, white papers and proposal abstracts or full proposals in response to the BAA.

The findings from the BAA will help the agency develop multiple technology layers made up of proliferated satellite constellations in LEO, with an initial capability expected to be stood up by the end of fiscal year 2022, said Derek Tournear, SDA director, in a Tuesday media briefing at the Pentagon. He first outlined the different layers in a media roundtable at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference Sept. 18, 2019.

That initial capability, dubbed “Tranche 0,” or “Warfighter Immersion Tranche,” will focus on enabling beyond-line-of-sight targeting and advanced missile tracking, he said. It will include several dozen satellites “with the capability to show that you can operate a proliferated constellation, that that proliferated constellation can actually talk in real time to weapons systems, can actually do detection, do tipping and queuing, and show how that whole network will work,” Tournear said.

The goal is to launch a new tranche of systems every two years, with Tranche 1 enabling regional persistence for beyond-line-of-sight targeting and advanced missile tracking, and Tranche 2 in FY ’26 enabling full global coverage, he noted. Solicitations for a data custody layer to provide 24/7 all-weather targeting of mobile targets and a ground systems integration layer are also expected to be released this fiscal year. “That will keep us on track to deliver those capabilities at the end of FY ’22 for Tranche 0 and then going forward, every two years,” he said.

The BAA is not intended to focus on a particular tranche or capability layer, he added. “That is the solicitation that we at the Space Development Agency will use to develop new technologies in a rapid method as people send us ideas,” he said.

The BAA lays out descriptions for the various layers that will make up the new National Defense Space Architecture, “and then people can send in ideas on if they have technology they think could enable that.”

Last week, the SDA released a request for information regarding an optical intersatellite link open standard and is seeking feedback on how such a standard could be implemented.

“We’ll use that to feed our solicitation for our Tranche 0 transport layer” to enable assured, resilient, low-latency military data and communications worldwide, Tournear said. The solicitation for the initial transport layer is expected to be released this spring with the tracking layer solicitation expected shortly thereafter, and contract awards expected in summer 2020, he added.

The SDA is looking for technologies that are ready to field within 18 to 24 months and is open “to any and all proposals,” Tournear said. Price per satellite will be around $10 million, he added. The goal is to eventually manufacture one satellite per week

The agency is working with Pentagon offices including Army Futures Command and the Missile Defense Agency on various capability priorities to ensure interoperability and reduce redundancy, he added.