Fri. Sep 29th, 2023
Geost Wins Contract to Produce Payloads for Missile-Tracking Satellites

Geost, a supplier of optical sensor payloads for military satellites, has been awarded a contract to manufacture eight payloads for missile-tracking satellites being built by Northrop Grumman for the U.S. Space Development Agency (SDA). These payloads, named Starlite, are designed to detect threats in orbit. Northrop Grumman won a $617 million contract in July 2022 to produce 14 Tracking Layer satellites as part of SDA’s Tranche 1 Tracking Layer satellites program, projected to launch in 2025.

SDA’s overall architecture, known as the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture, includes a Transport Layer of interconnected communications satellites that will transmit data collected by the Tracking Layer satellites. The Starlite payloads are expected to enhance the survivability and resilience of the assets and architecture during attacks.

Geost, a subsidiary of LightRidge Solutions and owned by private equity firm ATL Partners, is based in Tucson, Arizona. According to Joshua Hartman, LightRidge Solutions’ chief growth and strategy officer, the Starlite payloads are smaller and lower-cost versions of those produced for larger geostationary satellites. Geost will also provide a ground system to operate the Starlite payloads under the contract with Northrop Grumman.

Although the inclusion of eight Starlite payloads in Tranche 1 was not initially planned, it was mandated by the Defense Appropriations Committees and later embraced by the SDA as a pathfinder effort after the Tranche 1 awards were made. However, insufficient budget was allocated to install Starlite on all of the Northrop Grumman satellites. Hartman shares that Geost is expanding its manufacturing capacity in Tucson to accommodate the production of electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) payloads.

The company anticipates receiving more orders for Starlite payloads once they have been demonstrated on Tranche 1. The resiliency capabilities provided by Starlite are seen as valuable additions to the Tranche 2 baseline plans. Geost’s commitment to expanding its manufacturing facilities underscores its dedication to meeting the growing demand for advanced optical sensor payloads in the military satellite industry.