The accidental discovery of a rocket launch in 2017 and the emergence of hypersonic weapons led L3Harris Technologies to transition from being a weather sensor maker into a developer of missile warning satellites, C4ISRNET reported Wednesday.
In 2018, the company started making investments as part of its efforts to break into the missile tracking business, including the establishment of a payload manufacturing facility in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and investment in algorithms that can rule out background noise being detected by its sensor.
The Space Development Agency issued requests for proposals for tracking layer satellites and data transport layer in May 2020 and selected L3Harris in October of last year as one of the two recipients of contracts for the tracking layer of the proposed National Defense Space Architecture. L3Harris will build four satellites or the Tracking Layer Tranche 0 effort under a $193.6 million contract.
“This is the culmination for us of a pretty big pivot in our company. We were known mostly as a weather sensor company in this particular area, infrared,” said Bill Gattle, president of space systems at L3Harris. “Then a couple of years ago we saw that our infrared sensors on our weather satellites could actually pick up rocket launches.”
In January, L3Harris received a $122 million contract from the Missile Defense Agency to build prototypes for the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor.
The Potomac Officers Club’s 2021 Industrial Space Defense Summit, scheduled for March 23, will highlight innovation and private-public partnerships in the federal space defense arena. To register for this virtual event, visit Potomac Officers Club’s Event Page.