Airbus US Space and Defense has been picked to provide 42 satellite bus platforms to Northrop Grumman for the US Space Development Agency’s (SDA) Tranche 1 Transport Layer (T1TL) constellation. T1TL is a low Earth orbit (LEO) mesh network of small satellites, which will be used by the SDA to support its military surveillance and communications activities. Northrop Grumman secured a contract worth US$692 million from the SDA earlier this year to produce 42 satellites. Lockheed Martin and York Space Systems received similar contracts to produce 42 satellites each for the constellation by 2024.
Northrop Grumman will use the Airbus Arrow 450 bus for the Tranche 1 satellites, expected to launch in late 2024. The Arrow 450 is an enlarged version of the Arrow 150 smallsat bus used in the OneWeb constellation. Northrop Grumman is the first customer for the new bus, which is being built at the Airbus OneWeb Satellites factory in Merritt Island, Florida, according to reports by SpaceNews.