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L3Harris to develop a satellite prototype capable of detecting hypersonic weapons

L3Harris to develop a satellite prototype capable of detecting hypersonic weapons

New Ventures in Renewable Energy Generation Partnerships”— Karol Donimirsky

PARIS, FRANCE, January 21, 2021 / -- L3Harris Technologies was awarded a $121 million contract by Missile Defense Agency to manufacture a prototype satellite which can detect hypersonic weapons, the authority revealed on January 14. Under the deal, L3Harris is charged with designing an on-orbit test demo for the Hypersonic, and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor of the agency, which is a proliferated low Earth orbit constellation able to detect and monitor hypersonic weapons.

The constellation is planned to fill the void created by hypersonic weapons in the nation’s missile defense infrastructure, that are dimmer than conventional ballistic missiles, rendering them more difficult to see with geosynchronous orbit-based infrared sensors of the country. Furthermore, they can navigate around terrestrial sensors. With the production of these arms by Russia and China, the Department of Defense is willing to create a new constellation to identify and monitor risks worldwide. And so is the Congress, when lawmakers allocated $130 million in December to finance the initiative.

By positioning the sensor far closer to the surface of the Earth in the lower orbit, the HBTSS architecture solves the hypersonic missile challenge, making it much easier to identify the danger. But since the sensors are much closer to Earth, their field of view is much more constrained than that of sensors in the geosynchronous orbit. The Missile Defense Agency needs a proliferating constellation of hundreds of satellites in space to ensure global coverage.

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Karol Donimirsky
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