Defense contractor Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC) has selected laser technology manufacturer Mynaric (NASDAQ: MYNA and FRA:M0Y) to provide 42 optical communications terminals beginning in 2024 for 14 satellites the company is building for the Space Development Agency (SDA).
Mynaric declined to share the value of the order with Connectivity Business News.
The SDA in July selected Northrop Grumman and fellow defense contractor L3Harris Technologies (NYSE: LTX) to each build 14 missile-tracking satellites, receiving $617 million and $700 million, respectively. Those satellites are set to launch in 2025.
While L3Harris has not announced a subcontract for optical terminals for its satellites, in July the company made an $11.2 million investment in Mynaric. L3Harris now owns 7.2% of the Munich-based equipment company.
Today’s announcement extends a partnership that began earlier this year between Mynaric and Northrop Grumman. The defense contractor was awarded $692 million in February to provide 42 data transportation satellites for the SDA and in June issued a $36 million subcontract to Mynaric for optical terminals. Airbus U.S. Space & Defense was selected in July to build and integrate the satellites for an undisclosed amount.
US government to build optical terminal portfolio
Defense contractor Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) and smallsat manufacturer York Space Systems were also awarded contracts from the SDA to each build 42 satellites, receiving $700 million and $382 million, respectively. Lockheed is partnering with satellite communications company Telesat (NYSE: TSAT) for optical terminals for an undisclosed amount. York has yet to announce any contracts.
Lockheed and York were the first two companies to win contracts from the SDA, which was established in 2019. In 2020 Lockheed and York were awarded $188 million and $94 million, respectively, to build 10 satellites each.
Denver-based York was selected for another SDA program this month, receiving a $200 million contract for the Tranche 1 Demonstration and Experimentation System (T1DES) Program. Space, aerospace and utility investor AE Industrial Partners (AEI) acquired a majority stake in York this month, with reports pinning the investment at just over $1 billion.
The U.S. government is seeking a diverse selection of optical terminals for the future. The most advanced effort is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Space-Based Adaptive Communications Node (Space-BACN) program, an initiative to develop low-cost optical communications technologies for satellites. DARPA in August selected 11 teams, including Mynaric, for phase 1.