Space Force to Request Proposals for Evolved Strategic Satellite Communications System

The US Space Force is expected to issue a request for proposals to modernize the nuclear command, control, and communications network. The purpose of this system is to maintain satellite capabilities in the midst of a nuclear war. All segments must be nuclear hardened for survivability in the event of nuclear weapons usage. This has been an ongoing effort starting at least as early as 2020 when Boeing and Northrop Grumman were selected to build competing prototypes of the system. Little is known about the system other than the expected price tag of $8 billion and the production start date of 2025. This proposal is only for the space segment, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are building competing prototypes for the ground segments. Besides the space and ground segments, the program also includes a crypto segment responsible for data security. Proposals for the crypto segment have already been submitted and a contract is expected to be awarded by the end of the year. During the AFCEA Space Industry Days conference last week, Cordell DeLaPena, the program executive officer, said ESS will be a “survivable and jam-resistant satcom capability for the NC3 mission…”