SpaceX launched 13 new advanced military satellites from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base, Saturday September 2, 2023. Photo/NASA/Space/Spaceflightnow
VENDERBERG – SpaceX launched 13 new, sophisticated military satellites from California’s Vandenberg Space Force Base, Saturday 2 September 2023. A series of advanced satellites belonging to the US Space Force, functions for missile tracking and global military communications.
The series of advanced military satellites developed by the US Space Force’s Space Development Agency (SDA) was launched using a Falcon 9 rocket. This launch marked SpaceX’s second launch in support of the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture (PWSA), the concept of a missile tracking and data relay military satellite network.
On the first PWSA mission in early April, the Falcon 9 flew 10 military satellites from Vandenberg. “The new layered satellite network in low Earth orbit will provide global military communications and missile warning, indication and tracking capabilities,” wrote SpaceX, quoted by SINDOnews from the Space page, Sunday (3/9/2023).
According to SpaceNews, these first two missions are dedicated to building “Tranche 0”, a constellation of 28 satellites. This series of satellites are communications instruments, but some are designed to detect missiles.
“Under the plan, the Space Force would have hundreds of small satellites, and new satellites launched each year to increase endurance and capability in orbit,” Air Force and Space Magazine wrote in late March.
Of the 13 satellites on board the Falcon 9 rocket, 11 data relay satellites are part of the ‘Transport Layer’ and two ‘Tracking Layer’ satellites. Ten of the communications satellites were built by Lockheed Martin and one by York Space.
The two missile tracking satellites were built by SpaceX. Once placed, the satellites will undergo inspection and maneuver into an operational orbit about 620 miles or 1,000 km high.
“I am very pleased with the initial operations of the first group of satellites we launched. “This satellite gives us the capability to provide tactical data links for the military on the battlefield, targeting beyond line of sight, and advanced missile warning or missile tracking,” said Derek Tournear, SDA director, quoted from the spaceflightnow page.