RTX (formerly Raytheon) has been cut from the Space Force’s fast-track effort to station new missile warning/missile tracking satellites in medium Earth orbit. (Graphic: Raytheon Technologies)

WASHINGTON — The Space Force has terminated its contract with RTX (formerly Raytheon) for development of the service’s new missile warning/tracking constellation in medium Earth orbit (MEO) due to cost and schedule overruns, as well as technical issues, a spokesperson for Space Systems Command told Breaking Defense today.

“Space Systems Command will discontinue their Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) with Raytheon (RTX) to build three missile warning/missile tracking (MW/MT) space vehicles for the Resilient MW/MT Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) Epoch 1 program. At the end of May, the MEO Missile Warning, Tracking, and Defense Delta notified RTX that it would be discontinuing its contractual agreement to produce missile warning/missile tracking satellites after a successful design closure event in June 2024,” the spokesperson said in an email.

“This was done because the RTX Epoch 1 development effort was facing significant cost growth from the original agreement baseline, projecting slips to the launch schedule, and had unresolved design challenges,” they added.

An RTX spokesperson declined to comment on the contract termination, saying only: “RTX remains committed to supporting the U.S. Space Force now and in the future.”

Each spiral of satellites under the MEO program are called Epochs. Epoch 1 in essence transitions the SSC’s 2021 study, first reported by Breaking Defense, to a program of record, with Raytheon Intelligence & Space and Boeing’s Millennium Space Systems contracted in January to build MEO MW/MT Epoch 1 prototypes. In June, SSC awarded a sensor payload design contract to L3Harris Technologies, positioning the company as the third vendor.

The Space Force previously had been planning to start launching nine Epoch 1 satellites starting in 2026.

At the time of the contract, RTX announced that it was teaming with Lockheed Martin to integrate its sensor payload onto a mid-size LM400 satellite bus. The company also planned to base its ground system on its “Future Operationally Resilient Ground Evolution Mission Data Processing Application Framework (FORGE MDPAF)” that collects and processes data from satellites. FORGE is being designed to process data from the Space Force’s two ongoing missile warning/tracking programs in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO): the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) constellation, which is on-orbit, and the future Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next-Gen OPIR) constellation.

MEO lies between the upper edge of low Earth orbit at 2,000 kilometers in altitude and GEO at approximately 36,000 kilometers.

Neither of the Resilient MW/MT MEO contractors, nor the Space Force, formally announced the size of the contract awards for Epoch 1. However, the fiscal 2025 defense budget bill passed yesterday by the House Appropriations Committee contained a cut of $75 million to the service’s request of $845 million for the program due to an unspecified “vendor termination.”]

Millennium, meanwhile, last November was awarded a follow-on production contract for six satellites for the program, with a value of some $500 million. As of now, no follow-on has been awarded to L3Harris.