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Transformational SATCOM (TSAT)
Transformational Communications Satellite (TSAT)
Advanced Wideband System

The Transformational Satellite System (TSAT) provides orbit-to-ground laser communications. Throughput for the five-satellite constellation could top out at 10 to 40 gigabytes per second, with a total program cost of $12 billion-to-$18-billion for the entire constellation.

The Transformational Satellite Communications (TSAT) System will provide DoD with high data rate Military Satellite Communications (MILSATCOM) and Internet-like services as defined in the Transformational Communications Architecture (TCA). TSAT is key to global net-centric operations. As the spaceborne element of the Global Information Grid (GIG), it will extend the GIG to users without terrestrial connections providing improved connectivity and data transfer capability, vastly improving satellite communications for the warfighter.

As the terrestrial aspects of communication in the TCA evolve, so will DoD satellite resources. The stated goal of the Transformational Satellite communications system is to provide improved, survivable, jam-resistant, worldwide, secure and general purpose communications as part of an independent but interoperable set of space-based systems that will support NASA, DoD and the IC. TSAT will ultimately replace the DoD's current satellite system and supplement AEHF satellites.

The TCA proposes a radio frequency (RF), i.e., traditional radio-based, crosslink to complete the AEHF group of satellites or constellation. The constellation is called the Advanced Polar System (APS), which supports strategic and national users in the polar region. The APS is designed to withstand nuclear attacks and support the strategic mission with uninterrupted service. These satellites introduce the use of jam-resistant laser crosslinks for connection into the TSAT.

The TSAT includes satellite resources and TCM satellite operation centers, TCM Mission Operations Systems and ground gateways. This creates an Internet-like transport architecture between space, air, ground and sea nodes. This design will culminate in a flexible Enterprise warfighting environment. The full GIG implementation, supported by TSAT, means every asset in the battlespace would be addressable and capable of generating, processing or routing information.

Current TCA vision calls for the US Air Force, as program sponsor, to launch a constellation of five transformational satellites or TSAT spacecraft about 2013. This constellation will form the DoD ring. In this scenario, the Department of the Navy will design a service-specific architecture to leverage the spacecraft capabilities.

The TSAT assets of the DoD ring support RF data rates up to 45 Mbps and laser communication user data rates into the 10-100s Gbps range. A design objective of the DoD ring is to provide multiple, simultaneous user access to laser-based communications. This feature creates a virtually jam-proof environment. The TSAT also offers an enormous increase in total bandwidth capacity with loaded capacity of about 2 Gbps of RF per vehicle compared with 250 Mbps for AEHF.

The TSAT's Internet Protocol (IP) routing will connect thousands of users through networks rather than limited point-to-point connections. Additionally, TSAT will enable high data rate connections to Space and Airborne Intellligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (SISR, AISR) platforms.

The TSAT program consists of a five satellite constellation (a sixth satellite is being procured to ensure mission availability), TSAT satellite operations centers (TSOC) for on-orbit control, TSAT Mission Operations Systems (TMOS) to provide network management, and ground gateways. The TSAT portion of the TCA will incorporate radio frequency (RF) and laser communications links to meet defense and intelligence community requirements for high data rate, protected communications.

The space segment will make use of key technology advancements where feasible to achieve a transformational leap in SATCOM capabilities. These technologies include but are not limited to: single and multi-access laser communications (to include wide field-of-view technology), packet switching, bulk and packet encryption/decryption, communications-on-the-move antennas, dynamic bandwidth and resource allocation techniques, and protected bandwidth efficient modulation.

Technology maturation activities are on schedule with the prime contractors and numerous directed technology development contractors.

In order to ensure interoperability with the GIG integrated architecture, the TSAT program will participate in the GIG end-to-end test bed and systems engineering activities. TSAT will interoperate with elements of the net-centric GIG including, but are not limited to, Information Assurance, Network Operations, and Information Dissemination Management.


An Interim Program Review was held 22 October 2004; the Milestone Decision Authority (MDA) directed the TSAT program to continue as planned to achieve the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) Full Operational Capability-equivalency with the delivery, launch, and on-orbit checkout of the first TSAT satellite.

In September 2004, at the Senior Warfighters Forum (SWarF), the Combatant Commanders gave unanimous support for TSAT as a critical enabler for the warfighting community.

In June 2003, the acquisition strategy for TSAT and Advanced Polar System (APS) was approved, as stated in the FY05 PB justification. Since that time, the APS requirements document was not validated by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, and the program has been cancelled due to affordability/user requirements issues and replaced by additional enhanced polar hosted packages.

On 20 January 2004, the TSAT program entered Phase B, Risk Reduction and Design Development. Phase B space segment contracts (Cost Plus, Fixed Fee) were awarded to Lockheed Martin and Boeing in late Jan 04. A $300M FY05 Congressional reduction resulted in a first launch delay from FY12 to FY13. In response to the Congressional reduction, the Air Force adjusted the FY06/07 budget.

In late FY05 the results of a full and open competition to select the final TSAT Mission Operations System segment development contractor will be announced.

In late FY06 the results of a full and open competition to select the final space segment development contractor will be announced.

FY06 will verify with subsystem hardware testing in a space-like environment, that technologies are mature. If a technology fails to mature, less-capable technology off-ramps exist and can be used to preserve schedule. Even the technology off-ramps will significantly enhance warfighter capabilities, and the advanced technology can be spiraled into a later spacecraft. First launch is scheduled for 2QFY13.

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Page last modified: 21-07-2011 13:05:39 ZULU