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US Space Force commercial LEO deal due by May

A US Space Force radome receives data from satellites at Kaena Point Space Force Station, Hawaii, on 14 September 2022. (US Space Force)

The US Space Force (USSF) is poised to award several contracts to commercial satellite communications (satcom) companies, who will provide proliferated low Earth orbit (LEO) satcom capabilities to US armed forces and allies, the head of the service's commercial satcom office said.

Officials from the USSF's Commercial Satellite Communications Office (CSCO) are in the midst of wrapping up the source selection process from industry offerings submitted for the Proliferated-Low Earth Orbit Commercial Satellite Communications (P-LEO COMSATCOM) services request for proposals (RFP), issued in November 2022.

“We are taking advantage of, you know, this emerging capability that's being provided by companies like SpaceX, OneWeb”, and other emerging companies in the commercial satcom sector, said CSCO Chief Clare Grason. “We received a healthy interest and we are anticipating [contract] awards ... around the May timeframe,” she said during a February briefing on current and future satcom capabilities for the US armed forces.

The contracts, which will be issued by the Defense Information Systems Agency's Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization (DISA DITCO), will be divided into two sub-agreements. One sub-agreement will outline the “service plans” provided by the industry participant, which will be “reflective of government user groups' capability needs within the context of commercially available services”, the November 2022 RFI stated.

“Service plans may vary widely in what and how much they offer”, in terms of airtime access, regions covered, connectivity to military ground segments, and other associated operational issues, according to the RFI. “The volume and rate of service offered and the interval of time covered by each service plan”, proposed by industry, it added.

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