Demonstration of New Layer of Missile-Warning Satellites Planned for 2026

A new layer of missile warning satellites is planned for a 2026 launch. This will be the MEO layer to track hypersonic missiles and will work in conjunction with the current SBIRS constellation operating in a geosynchronous highly elliptical orbit. There are currently two contractors, Raytheon and Millenium Space Systems, on contract to produce the satellites and both just passed their first Critical Design Review. The process has been accelerated using Digital Engineering models and simulations to present these reviews.

This brings up a couple of cybersecurity concerns. If there are two different contractors, how integrated are they going to be, if at all? How is the raw data going to be handled? Are the specific contractors going to downlink the data to individual science operation centers and sent to the customers from there? This seems like it would be inefficient to have data that is not integrated, and may not get the entire picture of what is going on with a specific missile.

Another concern, I think, is how this data can be validated with so many people having a stake in the program. With two large contractors, it seems like there would be a lot of people with access to this data and network that could inject bad data or manipulate it. It seems access should be very limited but finding that balance between secure and inefficient, again, will be interesting.