Space Development Agency
US Space Development Agency logo.jpg
SDA logo
The Pentagon, cropped square.png

SDA headquarters, the Pentagon
Agency overview
FormedMarch 12, 2019; 3 years ago (2019-03-12)
TypeDepartment of Defense Agency
HeadquartersThe Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia, US
38°52′16″N 77°03′22″W / 38.871°N 77.056°W / 38.871; -77.056Coordinates: 38°52′16″N 77°03′22″W / 38.871°N 77.056°W / 38.871; -77.056
  • Semper Citius
  • (Latin: "Always Faster")
Agency executives
  • Derek Tournear, Director
  • Ryan C. Frigm, Deputy Director
Parent departmentU.S. Department of Defense
Parent agencyUnder Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering

The Space Development Agency (SDA) is a directorate of the United States Department of Defense's office of the under secretary of defense for research and engineering (OUSD (R&E)) which supports space development in the interests of U.S. national security. By design,[1] the functions for acquisition and sustainment (A&S) are the responsibility of another under secretary of defense; this separation of function decouples the technology development of a working prototype system, even the systems as complicated as those taken on by the SDA, from overcomplication induced by the processes of the DoD.[66]

The SDA was created in 2019[67] to implement the National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA).[34] The SDA plans to transfer to the United States Space Force around October 2022, although details are still uncertain.[68]

Earth's satellites in: Low Earth orbit— LEO (blue); Medium Earth orbit— MEO (green); Cislunar distances (red): If one were to hold a blue marble out at arm's length, one would see Earth's size and shape from the perspective of the astronauts travelling to the Moon.
Earth's satellites in: Low Earth orbit— LEO (blue); Medium Earth orbit— MEO (green); Cislunar distances (red): If one were to hold a blue marble out at arm's length, one would see Earth's size and shape from the perspective of the astronauts travelling to the Moon.

Projects and research

Transport layer[69] of the National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA)
Transport layer[69] of the National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA)

Among the SDA projects:

List of directors

No. Director Term
Portrait Name Took office Left office Duration
Fred Kennedy[87]
Kennedy, Fred G. IIIFred Kennedy[87]
March 12, 2019June 2019~3 months and 3 days
Derek M. Tournear[67]
Tournear, Derek M.Derek M. Tournear[67]
June 2019October 28, 2019~4 months and 13 days
Derek M. Tournear[67]
Tournear, Derek M.Derek M. Tournear[67]October 28, 2019[88]Incumbent2 years, 9 months, and 4 days


  1. ^ In Remote Sensing, Tipping and Queuing (Cueing?) is a technique for tracking and monitoring fast-moving objects, using multiple sensors of multiple modalities (for example electro-optical and radar sensors). One sensor with a wide field of view might detect, acquire, and even track an object of interest (the 'target'); that sensor would 'tip' another sensor with the tracking information for that target. The next sensor, say with point defense capability, might then take the 'cue' to narrow the tracking box around the target, to build more accurate tracking information, to tip yet another defense system, and so forth.[84]
  2. ^ Valerie Insinna (11 Apr 2022) After hearing Silicon Valley complaints, Hicks says no 'magical' fix to acquisition Hicks software modernization strategy
  3. ^ "Book Excerpt: Pruning The Acquisition Kudzu". July 29, 2021.
  4. ^ Theresa Hitchens (27 Jul 2022) Rocket science: How Space Force acquisition works, with many players and dual hats Space Force’s Space Systems Command (SSC) org chart
  5. ^ Jaspreet Gill (13 Jul 2022) Air Force needs more efficiency from 'raindrop' software factories: Former DoD cyber official devSecOps
  6. ^ David Roza (14 Jun 2022) The Pentagon’s new data chief waited days just for an ID card
  7. ^ a b Insinna, Valerie (June 1, 2021). "SMC, SDA Missile Warning Sat Ground Systems Won't 'Talk' - For Now".
  8. ^ a b " has moved".
  9. ^ Sandra Erwin (February 17, 2019). "Pentagon seeking proposals for how to use sensors in space to quickly target enemy missiles". SpaceNews.
  10. ^ a b Theresa Hitchens (21 Jan 2021) SDA To Demo Tracking & Targeting Satellites In 2022 Tranche0 Link-16
  11. ^ a b Strout, Nathan (February 11, 2021). "SDA to launch several demonstration satellites in 2021". C4ISRNet.
  12. ^ Mandy Mayfield (16 Apr 2020) JUST IN: Pentagon Bringing New Space Sensing Capabilities Online (UPDATED) Space Fence
  13. ^ ESRI app, Satellite Map
  14. ^ (31 Mar 2022) Space Force Buys a Digital Twin of Orbital Space "Updated 'minute-by-minute', the Slingshot Aerospace tool is expected to improve training and real-world planning"
  15. ^ Robert Johnson (19 May 2021) Parsons Lands $185M Task to Support Space Force Situational Awareness System Integrated Solutions for Situational Awareness ISSA, unclassified version
  16. ^ Bloomberg Quicktake: Originals (16 Jun 2022) How LeoLabs Is Using New Tech to Target Space Junk LEOLabs is focusing on the lowest 2,000 kilometers above Earth, provides an API to transmit collision avoidance (machine-to-machine API) alerts to its customers
  17. ^ Theresa Hitchens (15 Sep 2021) Revolutionary Tech Could Allow Near-Real Time Space Tracking, Company Says MITRE
  18. ^ "Theater Commands OK SDA's Sat Plans: EXCLUSIVE". April 1, 2021.
  20. ^ Nate Turkin (28 Apr 2021) What focus areas are key to America’s future space capabilities?
  21. ^ "US Army network team sets timeline for satellite constellations". SDQuébec.
  22. ^ a b "JROC Tags Space Force To Make Satellites Link With JADC2". June 3, 2021.
  23. ^ a b c Mezher, Chyrine (June 14, 2021). "Pentagon: Diversify Your Orbital Regimes".
  24. ^ a b Theresa Hitchens (21 Jun 2021) SDA Demos Spotlight Tech Hurdles To JADC2 Backbone 5 payloads: Optical link, Sat to drone
  25. ^ a b Theresa Hitchens (21 January 2021) Austin Signals Shift Back To Focus On Space Resilience Space Acquisition executive
  26. ^ Colin Clark (20 Mar 2019) Space Force May Not Fix Space Acquisition Mess Military space programs have to navigate a maze of 60 agencies
  27. ^ a b c "2019 AUSA Warriors Corner - TacticalSpace: Delivering Future Force Space Capabilities". DVIDS.
  28. ^ a b c Andrew Eversden (28 Jun 2022) Army moves ahead with Palantir and Raytheon for next phase of TITAN
  29. ^ Washington Headquarters Service (WHS) (2010) Plain Language Official DoD Plain Language Website — DoD Instruction 5025.13, "DoD Plain Language Program".
  30. ^ Theresa Hitchens (29 Jun 2022) New Space Force acquisition exec eschews more reorganization Frank Calvelli
  31. ^ Theresa Hitchens (28 Jun 2021) Loft Orbital’s ‘Rideshare’ Sats: Take An Uber To Space Yam-2, Yam-3
  32. ^ Theresa Hitchens (1 Jul 2021) SMC Eyes MEO Sats For Missile Tracking Raytheon & Boeing Millennium Systems are designing digital prototypes which are in Critical design review (CDR) by Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) for launch to MEO in late 2022. Missile Track Custody Prototype (TCD)
  33. ^ a b c d Nathan Strout (1 Jul 2021) The Space Development Agency now has demo satellites on orbit. Here’s what they’ll do. Transporter-2: Mandrake 2, the Laser Interconnect and Networking Communications System (LINCS), and the Prototype On-orbit Experimental Testbed (POET). Yam-3 for data fusion. Pitboss for Autonomous mission management.
  34. ^ Nathan Strout (29 Nov 2021) Raytheon acquires SEAKR Engineering
  35. ^ Nathan Strout (3 May 2020) SEAKR moving forward with DARPA’s Pit Boss project
  36. ^ Theresa Hitchens (15 Jun 2020) DARPA’s Blackjack Jumps Forward With Payload, Bus, Demo Awards
  37. ^ Theresa Hitchens (9 Jul 2021) Space RCO Head: Too Soon For Single Acquisition Shop 50 to 55 contracts by year-end 2021
  38. ^ Tony Capaccio (10 Jul 2021) Pentagon Sees China’s Offensive Space Technology ‘On the March’ Jamming, dazzling, kinetic kill
  39. ^ Theresa Hitchens (16 Jul 2021) NTS-3, Aiming To Improve On GPS, Starts Integration Tests In August Toolkit of NDSA techniques
  40. ^ Nathan Strout (29 Jul 2021) Space Force launches small satellite to test new sensor possibilities 6U vs 12U bus
  41. ^ CTO Advanced Capabilities (2021) Advanced Capabilities Roles
  42. ^ "OCX On Track, Says Raytheon; Begins New Upgrade". May 5, 2021.
  43. ^ "Raytheon I&S wins GPS OCX contract". May 6, 2021.
  44. ^ " Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX)".
  45. ^ Theresa Hitchens (1 Jul 2022) Experimental missile warning satellite will test tech for Space Force use in multiple orbits WFOV to GEO, for OPIR
  46. ^ Nathan Strout (6 Aug 2021) Northrop Grumman, Ball Aerospace clear milestone for missile warning payload Next Gen Overhead Persistent Infrared to replace SBIRS
  47. ^ Clark, Colin (September 28, 2021). "SASC Frets DoD Missile Warning Satellite Efforts May Be Flailing".
  48. ^ Theresa Hitchens (11 Nov 2021) MDA: Hypersonic missile tracking prototypes on point for 2023 launch "What happens after the HBTSS prototype demonstrations, however, is yet to be determined"
  49. ^ Tara Copp (9 Aug 2021) Hypersonic Missile Defense May Depend on Low Earth Orbit Satellites PIRPL
  50. ^ Theresa Hitchens (20 Aug 2021) Exclusive: Pentagon Poised To Unveil, Demonstrate Classified Space Weapon to shoot down satellites —John Hyten
  51. ^ Tariq Malik (22 Jan 2022) You can watch SpaceX launch more than four dozen Starlink internet satellites tonight. Here's how.
  52. ^ Daviscourt, Joshua (28 June 2021). "COTS and Space-based Missile Defense". United States Air Force. Retrieved 1 December 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  53. ^ "An Assessment of Concepts and Systems for U.S. Boost-Phase Missile Defense in Comparison to Other Alternatives". National Research Council. 5 November 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  54. ^ Barton, David K.; Falcone, Roger; Kleppner, Daniel; Lamb, Frederick K.; Lau, Ming K.; Lynch, Harvey L.; Moncton, David; Montague, David; Mosher, David E.; Priedhorsky, William; Tigner, Maury; Vaughan, David R. (5 October 2004). "Report of the American Physical Society Study Group on Boost-Phase Intercept Systems for National Missile Defense: Scientific and Technical Issues". Reviews of Modern Physics. 76 (3): S1–S424. doi:10.1103/RevModPhys.76.S1. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  55. ^ "Kendall To Announce Space Acquisition Shake Up". August 24, 2021.
  56. ^ "Air Force's Kendall Creates Space Acquisition Office, Accelerates Absorption of Space Development Agency". Defense One.
  57. ^ "(FY2021 budget justification) Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, Space Force (FY20) Proposed Budget Exhibit R-2, RDT&E Budget Item Justification: PB 2021 Air Force" (PDF).
  58. ^ a b "SDA Opens Contest For First Operational Constellation". August 27, 2021.
  59. ^ Nathan Strout (27 Aug 2021) New hypersonic missile-tracking satellites pass critical design review for Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) prototypes
  60. ^ a b Theresa Hitchens (7 Apr 2022) Space Force’s $1B for hypersonic missile tracking in FY23 will go to new satellites, ground systems Track Custody Prototype (TCP), and MEO satellite constellations with ground stations
  61. ^ Theresa Hitchens (15 Apr 2021) Antennas: The hard physics challenge for Space Force ‘hybrid’ SATCOM plan TITAN seeks "SATCOM signals from constellations in LEO, MEO and GEO"
  62. ^ a b Theresa Hitchens (27 May 2022) Space Development Agency taps GD-Iridium team for complex ground system
  63. ^ Aaron Mehta, ed. (6 January 2022) 2021-2022 Military Space Survey 26 pages
  64. ^ a b Greg Hadley (7 Jun 2022) Study: Combine Missile Warning, Tracking Constellations Into One Multi-Orbit System
  65. ^ [2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29] [30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37] [38][39][40][41][42][43][44] [45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54][55][56][57][58][59][60][61][62][63] [64][65]
  66. ^ a b c "Derek M. Tournear, Ph.D."
  67. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Space Development Agency. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  68. ^ a b c Greg Hadley (28 Feb 2022) SDA Awards $1.8 Billion in Contracts for 126 Satellites
  69. ^ Colin Clark (4 Jun 2021) SecDef OKs JADC2 Strategy: Now OSD Has ‘Teeth’ Approved 13 May 2021
  70. ^ a b c d e f "Details of the Pentagon New Space Architecture Revealed".
  71. ^ a b Transport layer
  72. ^ SDA (3 Jun 2022) SDA Seeks Industry Feedback through DRAFT Solicitation for NExT (National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA) Experimental Testbed) 10 space vehicles and associated mission-enabling ground systems
  73. ^ C Todd Lopez (2 May 2021) On-Time Delivery Top Priority at Space Development Agency
  74. ^ Theresa Hitchens (27 Aug 2021) SDA Opens Contest For First Operational Constellation 30 Aug 2021 RFP for Tranche 1 Transport Layer (T1TL) Jan 2022
  75. ^ a b Theresa Hitchens (28 Oct 2021) SDA Scraps, Relaunches Data Transport Satellite Bidding After Protest Tranche 1: T1TL of Aug 2021 was rescinded: "126 satellites [each] with Ka-band space-to-ground communications link, four optical communications terminals, a Link 16 payload (which is the current standard for machine-to-machine communications link among US and allied weapon systems), and a battle management, command, control and communications (BMC3) compute and storage module"; T1TL RFP was reissued 28 Oct 2021. T1TL terms were replaced with OTA authority instead. Proposals were due 24 Nov 2021.
  76. ^ SDA Opens Contest For First Operational Constellation Aug 2021
  77. ^ a b Theresa Hitchens (1 Mar 2022) Budget roadblock delaying Pentagon satellite program to track hypersonic missiles $750 million in question in FY2022 budget. An alternative, Tranche 1 Demonstration and Experimentation System (T1DES) can be let for 18 satellites.
  78. ^ Theresa Hitchens (18 Feb 2022) SDA awards $1.8B in contracts for first operational data transport sats Tranche 1 Transport layer (T1TL) award
  79. ^ Tracking layer
  80. ^ a b Theresa Hitchens (18 July 2022) L3Harris, Northrop score $1.3B in SDA hypersonic missile tracking contracts
  81. ^ Custody layer
  82. ^ Theresa Hitchens (15 Dec 2021) NGA Gears Up For All Domain Ops references tipping and queuing of the data sensors and sources of the NGA's intelligence community
  84. ^ Strout, Nathan (2021-09-20). "Space Development Agency approves design for satellites that can track hypersonic weapons". Defense News. Retrieved 2021-10-22.
  85. ^ "L3Harris' missile-tracking satellites pass early design review". SpaceNews. 2021-09-20. Retrieved 2021-10-22.
  86. ^ "Dr. Fred G. Kennedy III".
  87. ^ "Derek Tournear named permanent director of the Space Development Agency". SpaceNews. October 28, 2019.