Northrop Grumman has been awarded a contract by the US Space Force (USSF) for the rapid prototyping phase of the Evolved Strategic SATCOM (ESS) programme to develop a modernised strategic communications space segment with enhanced resilience and cybersecurity capabilities, the company announced on 17 September. The contract calls for the company to deliver the preliminary design for the ESS space segment, as well as a ground-based demonstration.

ESS is critical to extending our nation’s secure satellite communications infrastructure, as it will provide strategic users with assured, uninterruptable connectivity without fear of discovery anywhere on the globe,” explained Cyrus Dhalla, VP Communications Systems.

ESS will seamlessly interoperate with, and eventually replace, the existing USSF Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) system, to provide enduring and secure satellite communications to strategic users. As a key component of the disaggregated architecture supporting legacy AEHF capabilities, ESS replaces AEHF’s mid-latitude system capability, extending its survivable communications capability to the North Polar Region.

As a prime contractor on the ESS programme, Northrop Grumman will leverage decades of proven expertise in delivering protected MILSATCOM payloads for programmes that include Milstar, AEHF, and the Enhanced Polar System (EPS) and Enhanced Polar System Recapitalisation (EPS-R).

An artist’s concept of the proposed ESS spacecraft. (Image: Northrop Grumman)

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