Space Development Agency


Space Development Agency
US Space Development Agency logo.jpg
SDA logo
The Pentagon, cropped square.png
SDA headquarters, the Pentagon
Agency overview
FormedMarch 12, 2019; 2 years ago (2019-03-12)
TypeDepartment of Defense Agency
HeadquartersThe Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia, US
38°52′16″N 77°03′22″W / 38.871°N 77.056°W / 38.871; -77.056Coordinates: 38°52′16″N 77°03′22″W / 38.871°N 77.056°W / 38.871; -77.056
  • Semper Citius
  • (Latin: "Always Faster")
Agency executives
  • Derek Tournear, Director
  • Ryan C. Frigm, Deputy Director
Parent departmentU.S. Department of Defense
Parent agencyUnder Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering

The Space Development Agency (SDA) is a directorate of the United States Department of Defense's office of the under secretary of defense for research and engineering (OUSD (R&E)) which supports space development in the interests of U.S. national security. By design,[1] the functions for acquisition and sustainment (A&S) are the responsibility of another under secretary of defense; this separation of function decouples the technology development of a working prototype system, even the systems as complicated as those taken on by the SDA, from overcomplication induced by the processes of the DoD.[41]

The SDA was created in 2019[42] to implement the National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA).[24] The SDA plans to transfer to the United States Space Force around October 2022, although details are still uncertain.[43]

Earth's satellites in: Low earth orbit— LEO (blue); Medium earth orbit— MEO (green); Cislunar distances (red): If one were to hold a blue marble out at arm's length, one would see Earth's size and shape from the perspective of the astronauts travelling to the Moon.

Projects and research

Transport layer of the National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA)

Among the SDA projects:

  • "Optical communications between satellites, and from satellites to a military drone aircraft".[17][18][6][24]
  • Provide a resilient, persistent response to ballistic missile detection[4][19][16]
  • Build the JADC2[44] satellite backbone[3][15] using the National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA)[45][12]
    • The satellite constellations are in near-polar low earth orbit.[46] Hundreds of satellites are expected by the end of the 2020s.[24] "Would you be able to take out some of these satellites? Probably. Would you be able to take out all of these satellites? Probably not, before you are going to have a really bad day."—Derek Tournear[21]: min -2:10 before the end of the video clip 
    • Rapid response launch proliferated C2[47][16][40]
      1. User equipment (Earth stations and weapon systems)[21]
      2. Transport layer intersatellite data[46]
      3. Tracking layer handles launched items,[48] connects to existing user equipment[45]
      4. Custody layer handles items not yet launched from objects as big as a truck,[49] connects to existing user equipment[45]
      5. Battle management ("autonomy, tipping and queuing and data fusion")[45][50]
      6. Navigation layer is not finalized, provides navigation & launch data[45]
      7. Deterrence layer is situational awareness of cislunar space vehicles[45]

List of directors

No. Director Term
Portrait Name Took office Left office Duration
Derek M. Tournear[51]
Tournear, Derek M.Derek M. Tournear[51]June 2019Incumbent~2 years, 120 days


  2. ^ Arnold Punaro (29 Jul 2021) Book Excerpt: Pruning The Acquisition Kudzu
  3. ^ a b Theresa Hitchens (6 Jan 2021) SMC, SDA Missile Warning Sat Ground Systems Won’t ‘Talk’ – For Now
  4. ^ a b "Draft BAA, Time-Sensitive Target Mission Payloads Demonstration (TSTMPD) Solicitation Number: HQ0034-19-BAA-TSTMPD-0001".
  5. ^ Sandra Erwin (February 17, 2019). "Pentagon seeking proposals for how to use sensors in space to quickly target enemy missiles". SpaceNews.
  6. ^ a b Nathan Strout (11 Feb 2021) SDA to launch several demonstration satellites in 2021
  7. ^ Mandy Mayfield (16 Apr 2020) JUST IN: Pentagon Bringing New Space Sensing Capabilities Online (UPDATED) Space Fence
  8. ^ ESRI app, Satellite Map
  9. ^ Robert Johnson (19 May 2021) Parsons Lands $185M Task to Support Space Force Situational Awareness System Integrated Solutions for Situational Awareness ISSA, unclassified version
  10. ^ Theresa Hitchens (15 Sep 2021) Revolutionary Tech Could Allow Near-Real Time Space Tracking, Company Says MITRE
  11. ^ Theresa Hitchens (1 Apr 2021) Theater Commands OK SDA’s Sat Plans: EXCLUSIVE
  13. ^ Nate Turkin (28 Apr 2021) What focus areas are key to America’s future space capabilities?
  14. ^ Andrew Eversden (20 Aug 2020) US Army network team sets timeline for satellite constellations
  15. ^ a b Theresa Hitchens (3 Jun 2021) JROC Tags Space Force To Make Satellites Link With JADC2
  16. ^ a b c Sarah Mineiro (15 Jun 2021) Pentagon: Diversify Your Orbital Regimes
  17. ^ a b Theresa Hitchens (21 Jun 2021) SDA Demos Spotlight Tech Hurdles To JADC2 Backbone 5 payloads: Optical link, Sat to drone
  18. ^ a b Theresa Hitchens (21 January 2021) Austin Signals Shift Back To Focus On Space Resilience Space Acquisition executive
  19. ^ Colin Clark (20 Mar 2019) Space Force May Not Fix Space Acquisition Mess Military space programs have to navigate a maze of 60 agencies
  20. ^ a b c Office of the Chief of Public Affairs (10.16.2019) 2019 AUSA Warriors Corner - TacticalSpace: Delivering Future Force Space Capabilities
  21. ^ Theresa Hitchens (28 Jun 2021) Loft Orbital’s ‘Rideshare’ Sats: Take An Uber To Space Yam-2, Yam-3
  22. ^ Theresa Hitchens (1 Jul 2021) SMC Eyes MEO Sats For Missile Tracking Raytheon & Boeing Millennium Systems are designing digital prototypes which are in Critical design review (CDR) by Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) for launch in late 2022.
  23. ^ a b c d Nathan Strout (1 Jul 2021) The Space Development Agency now has demo satellites on orbit. Here’s what they’ll do. Transporter-2: Mandrake 2, the Laser Interconnect and Networking Communications System (LINCS), and the Prototype On-orbit Experimental Testbed (POET). Yam-3 for data fusion. Pitboss for Autonomous mission management.
  24. ^ Theresa Hitchens (9 Jul 2021) Space RCO Head: Too Soon For Single Acquisition Shop 50 to 55 contracts by year-end 2021
  25. ^ Tony Capaccio (10 Jul 2021) Pentagon Sees China’s Offensive Space Technology ‘On the March’ Jamming, dazzling, kinetic kill
  26. ^ Theresa Hitchens (16 Jul 2021) NTS-3, Aiming To Improve On GPS, Starts Integration Tests In August Toolkit of NDSA techniques
  27. ^ Nathan Strout (29 Jul 2021) Space Force launches small satellite to test new sensor possibilities 6U vs 12U bus
  28. ^ CTO Advanced Capabilities (2021) Advanced Capabilities Roles
  29. ^ THERESA HITCHENS (5 May 2021) OCX On Track, Says Raytheon; Begins New Upgrade
  30. ^ Loren Blinde (6 May 2021) Raytheon I&S wins GPS OCX contract
  31. ^ Control segment (FY2021 budget justification) Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX)
  32. ^ Nathan Strout (6 Aug 2021) Northrop Grumman, Ball Aerospace clear milestone for missile warning payload Next Gen Overhead Persistent Infrared to replace SBIRS
  33. ^ Theresa Hitchens (28 Sep 2021) SASC Frets DoD Missile Warning Satellite Efforts May Be Flailing
  34. ^ Tara Copp (9 Aug 2021) Hypersonic Missile Defense May Depend on Low Earth Orbit Satellites PIRPL
  35. ^ Theresa Hitchens (20 Aug 2021) Exclusive: Pentagon Poised To Unveil, Demonstrate Classified Space Weapon to shoot down satellites —John Hyten
  36. ^ Theresa Hitchens (24 Aug 2021) Kendall To Announce Space Acquisition Shake Up
  37. ^ Marcus Weisgerber (24 Aug 2021) Air Force’s Kendall Creates Space Acquisition Office, Accelerates Absorption of Space Development Agency
  38. ^ (FY2021 budget justification) Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, Space Force (FY20) Proposed Budget Exhibit R-2, RDT&E Budget Item Justification: PB 2021 Air Force
  39. ^ a b Theresa Hitchens (27 Aug 2021) SDA Opens Contest For First Operational Constellation
  40. ^ [2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31] [32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40]
  41. ^ Derek M. Tournear, Director of the Space Development Agency
  42. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Space Development Agency. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  43. ^ Colin Clark (4 Jun 2021) SecDef OKs JADC2 Strategy: Now OSD Has ‘Teeth’ Approved 13 May 2021
  44. ^ a b c d e f Stew Magnuson (19 Sep 2019) Pentagon’s New Space Architecture Revealed
  45. ^ a b Transport layer
  46. ^ C Todd Lopez (2 May 2021) On-Time Delivery Top Priority at Space Development Agency
  47. ^ Tracking layer
  48. ^ Custody layer
  49. ^ Theresa Hitchens (15 Dec 2021) NGA Gears Up For All Domain Ops references tipping and queuing of the data sensors and sources of the NGA's intelligence community
  50. ^