SDA Awards Prototype Agreement to Establish the NDSA Experimental Testbed (NExT)

Date: October 4, 2022

The Space Development Agency (SDA) today announced it has awarded one firm-fixed price Other Transaction prototype agreement, with a total potential value of approximately $176 million, to Ball Aerospace of Broomfield, Colorado, for the establishment of the National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA) Experimental Testbed (NExT).

The prototype agreement includes development, manufacture, deployment, launch, and operations of a set of 10 space vehicles and mission-enabling ground systems, set to fly beginning in 2024.

The experimental testbed will demonstrate warfighter utility of emerging mission partner payloads prior to potential incorporation in future tranches.

“NExT is an exciting program that has a lot of tie in with our mission partners and will help to advance future tranches of the National Defense Space Architecture,’ said Derek Tournear, SDA director. “We’re confident that selection of the Ball Aerospace team provides the best overall solution to deliver NExT, including payload integration and launch.”

“Ball Aerospace is excited to work with SDA on the upcoming NExT program,” said Dave Kaufman, president, Ball Aerospace. “As the prime contractor on this program, Ball Aerospace is leveraging our heritage and proven experience of assembly, integration and test of complex payloads while bringing together an innovative industry team to quickly deliver needed capabilities to ensure SDA mission success.”

Ball will perform integration of government furnished payloads and will operate the NExT satellites from their facilities in Colorado.

NExT is not part of the NDSA Tranche architecture, but will demonstrate low-latency data transport and beyond line-of-sight command and control.  NExT will experiment with the infrastructure established by the Tranche 1 Transport Layer (T1TL) to field and connect additional space vehicles with different mission payload configurations.

About the Space Development Agency. SDA is a direct reporting unit to U.S. Space Force. Recognized as DOD’s constructive disruptor for space acquisition, SDA will accelerate delivery of needed space-based capabilities to the joint warfighter to support terrestrial missions through development, fielding, and operation of the National Defense Space Architecture. For more information on SDA, contact or visit