Maxar Technologies challenged the Space Development Agency’s solicitation for 126 satellites by filing a complaint with Government Accountability Office (GAO) on October 8. SDA published a request for proposals on August 30 for Transport Layer Tranche 1 – a low-Earth orbit mesh network of tiny communications satellites set to launch in 2024. The deadline for proposals was October 8, the exact day Maxar submitted his protest.
SDA is “working with the GAO to seek a speedy, accurate, and equitable settlement to the protest lodged on the agency’s Tranche 1 Transport Layer solicitation,” according to a representative for the agency. SDA is dedicated to fair and open competition, and it recognizes that protests are an inevitable and normal part of that process.”
“We are happy to be able to present our commercially leading space technologies to the Space Development Agency’s Transport Layer Tranche 1 call for proposal,” a Maxar spokesperson stated in a statement. Maxar wants to make sure that the state is following its procurement laws, and he believes that the SDA is dedicated to obeying the FAR.”
Federal acquisition regulations are abbreviated as FAR. Maxar is a spacecraft maker as well as a high-resolution satellite imagery company in the US national security space industry. In 2017, the business absorbed the former Space Systems Loral satellite maker and relaunched it as Maxar. It is a relative new to the small satellite market, having previously produced huge Earth observation and communications satellites.
Maxar constructed 19 SkySat small imaging spaceships for Planet and is now working on 6 WorldView Legion tiny imaging satellites for its satellite imagery business.
Maxar teamed up with Thales Alenia Space in 2018 to develop a proposal for Telesat’s broadband low-earth-orbit constellation. Later, Maxar and Thales Alenia parted out and pursued separate Telesat network proposals. Telesat chose Thales Alenia to construct its constellation last year.
Several industry insiders familiar with SDA’s satellite procurement stated they had no idea what caused Maxar’s protest, but that bid problems are to be anticipated in a project of this magnitude and importance. According to SDA, up to three providers could be chosen to build the 126 satellites. Any satellite manufacturer would be thrilled to receive an SDA Tranche 1 award. The industry anticipates stiff competition.
Last year, SDA chose York Space Systems and Lockheed Martin to build the first twenty Transport Layer Tranche 0 satellites. SDA’s objective, according to agency director Derek Tournear, is to build a stable market that draws various producers and encourages private investment.