Rocket Lab USA, a provider of space launch services and advanced satellite technology that also utilizes 3D printing in manufacturing, announced that it has been selected by and has signed a contract with the Space Development Agency (SDA) to design and build 18 Tranche 2 Transport Layer Beta (T2TL – Beta) data transport satellites.
Under this contract, Rocket Lab will act as prime contractor and manage the design, development, production, testing and operation of the satellites, including the procurement and integration of the payload subsystems. The contract structure, consisting of a $489 million base and an additional $26 million worth of incentives and options, will be performed by Rocket Lab National Security (RLNS), a wholly owned subsidiary of the company that focuses on the needs of the U.S. defense and intelligence community and its allies.
The SDA procures satellites in two-year “tranches” to build a proliferated constellation in low earth orbit (LEO). This will provide the required space-based capabilities for the joint forces. The T2TL – Beta satellites will be integrated into SDA’s Transport Layer to provide reliable, resilient and low-latency military data and connectivity worldwide to meet the needs of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).
“This contract marks the beginning of Rocket Lab’s new era as a leading satellite prime. We’ve methodically executed on our strategy of developing and acquiring experienced teams, advanced technology, manufacturing facilities, and a robust spacecraft supply chain to make this possible. It’s exciting to now be delivering this capability for government and commercial customers alike,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck. “SDA’s acquisition approach favors speed, schedule certainty, and affordability to deliver next-generation space capabilities to the nation. We’ve proven Rocket Lab is capable of delivering this across our launch and spacecraft programs and we look forward to delivering it for SDA.”
All 18 satellites will integrate subsystems and components manufactured in-house by Rocket Lab, including solar panels, structures, star trackers, reaction wheels, radio, flight software, avionics and launch dispensers. This high level of integration gives Rocket Lab rare control over the supply chain, ensuring efficiency and certainty in terms of cost, schedule and quality. The satellites are built at Rocket Lab’s advanced satellite development and manufacturing complex at its Long Beach headquarters. The facility includes a 12,000 square foot clean room and 40,000 square feet of production and test facilities. The satellites are scheduled for launch in 2027.
As a leading provider of advanced spacecraft and components, Rocket Lab has a backlog of more than 40 satellites in development and production. Rocket Lab’s satellite technology and components have been integrated into over 1,700 satellite missions worldwide.
This new development underlines Rocket Lab’s growing importance in the space industry and demonstrates SDA’s confidence in the company’s capabilities. By combining innovation, reliable technology and a strong supply chain, Rocket Lab is positioning itself as a key player in the future of satellite communications and surveillance. The success of this project could not only improve military communications and reconnaissance, but also pave the way for further commercial and scientific applications in space.