Millennium Space Systems, a subsidiary of Boeing, has achieved a significant milestone in the development of the Missile Track Custody (MTC) space vehicle. The company has successfully completed the Critical Design Review (CDR) less than a year after receiving approval to proceed with the project.
The MTC project is a crucial component of the United States’ missile defense strategy. Col. Heather Bogstie, senior materiel leader for the SSC Space Sensing Resilient Missile Warning, Missile Tracking, Missile Defense (MW/MT/MD) program office, emphasized the importance of this initiative. She stated that the missile warning and defense architecture must be rapidly fielded, resilient in a wartime environment, and ready to defend the nation and its allies. The MTC is a key element in achieving this goal by demonstrating the ability to deliver a resilient constellation quickly.
Millennium Space Systems is now tasked with delivering six space vehicles for MTC Epoch 1. This includes the original contract for two vehicles, as well as an expanded Other Transaction Authority (OTA) for vehicles four through six.
Jason Kim, CEO of Millennium Space Systems, highlighted the urgency of the project and the critical role that MTC plays in the nation’s missile warning and defense architecture. He emphasized that schedule is paramount and that the company is leveraging its experience in moving quickly to meet operational imperatives.
The project has been progressing at a rapid pace. The full space segment review of the program, which includes a complete space vehicle and constellation design, was completed in under five months following the Preliminary Design Review (PDR), which itself was finished in just four months.
Lindsay Dewald, deputy program manager of Millennium Space Systems’ MTC program, explained that the accelerated timeline required a reevaluation of traditional CDR requirements. The company made changes to balance between doing things differently while taking advantage of a mature, flight-proven spacecraft baseline architecture from multiple on-orbit constellations. The company’s vertical integration also brought significant prior investments and an active production line.
Digital engineering has played a central role in the program’s success. The MTC space vehicle CDR builds on the digital, model-based PDR of the MTC Mission Payload CDR, completed in November 2022. The emphasis on digital engineering has streamlined the generation and analysis of data products as the space vehicle design matured and improved communication with suppliers and customers.
Looking ahead to 2024, the focus is on high-fidelity testing before moving to vehicle builds. Dewald stated that the company is now fully committed to producing six space vehicles and proceeding with integration and testing. The goal is to perform high-fidelity testing before starting vehicle builds to reduce risks for the first vehicle and subsequently for the remaining five vehicles.
In conclusion, Millennium Space Systems has achieved a significant milestone with the completion of the CDR for the Missile Track Custody space vehicle. The project is an essential part of the United States’ missile defense strategy, and the company is now moving forward with the production and testing of six space vehicles.