The US Space Force has awarded contracts totaling $9.7 million each to Ball Aerospace, Parsons, General Dynamics, and Omni Federal for the development of competing designs for next-generation ground systems. The project, known as FORGE C2, or Future Operationally Resilient Ground Evolution Command and Control, aims to modernize the ground systems that control spacecraft and process data from current and future satellites in geostationary and polar orbits. This includes systems like the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) and Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next-Gen OPIR) constellations.
The FORGE program was initiated by the Space Systems Command in 2019, with the objective of creating an open architecture for missile-warning ground systems to replace the proprietary ground stations currently utilized by Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for both SBIRS and Next-Gen OPIR. The FORGE C2 prototype will establish a government-owned, cyber-secure, modular open systems approach for satellite command and control, encompassing mission management, ground control, telemetry, tracking, and commanding.
The four vendors were competitively chosen through the Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC), an organization established to encourage startups and commercial companies to compete for defense programs. The use of SpEC’s other transaction authority allows the Space Systems Command to access innovative technology that would not be otherwise available through traditional contracting methods. FORGE C2 is part of a larger $2.8 billion program to modernize missile-warning ground systems.
These four selected vendors will have 16 months to develop prototypes. Following this phase, one or more may be chosen for the subsequent stage, which will concentrate on the Next-Gen OPIR polar satellites. Parsons and General Dynamics have previously been awarded contracts for other Space Force ground systems, with Parsons developing a ground system for medium Earth orbit missile-warning satellites, and General Dynamics Mission Systems operating the ground systems for the Department of Defense’s future low Earth orbit constellation.