GEOST, a small company based in Tucson, Ariz., won two U.S. Space Force contracts worth $38 million to develop an optical sensor payload that could be hosted on government or commercial satellites to scan the geostationary belt more than 22,000 miles above Earth, reports Space News.
The contracts awarded to the company — $32 million in December 2021 and $6 million in November 2020 — include the design and development of the sensor, ground infrastructure, technical support and integration with the host platform and launch vehicle. But the actual payload is less than $10 million, a key price point that the Space Force believes would make it possible to deploy these in large numbers, said GEOST vice president and general manager Joshua Hartman.
Hartman said the company’s payload will be ready to launch in 2023. The Space Force has not yet identified a host satellite but the whole idea behind this program is to build sensors that could go on almost any U.S. or allied government, or commercial satellite to provide space domain awareness, reports Space News.
The Space Force wants to proliferate these sensors across geostationary orbit, so the $10 million target price is key to make that a reality, said Hartman.
The Space Systems Command said last fall that the Space Force is considering buying a large number of “space domain awareness sensors to augment current and planned systems.” Multiple sensors would be needed to get “frequent revisits of significant portions of the GEO belt.”