Two American defence contractors Northrop Grumman and L3Harris have received contracts to develop prototype hypersonic missile sensors. The award was issued to L3Harris on 14 January -worth US$121 million, with Northrop Grumman receiving its on 22nd – worth US$155 million.
These contracts have come out of the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) programme run by the US Missile Defence Agency (MDA). The winners have been tasked with supplying a satellite equipped with a prototype sensor to LEO by July 2023. From there they will be evaluated for “medium-field-of-view” capabilities and ability to track hypersonic and “dim upper-stage” ballistic missiles. Producing a successful satellite is expected to yield many future satellite orders as the MDA and Space Development Agency (SDA) proliferate their next-generation programmes.