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Heinrich Joins BlueHalo and U.S. Space Force for Milestone Demonstration of New Satellite Communications System

ALBUQUERQUE – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined leaders from the U.S. Space Force in observing a technology demonstration of BlueHalo’s BADGER satellite communication system. The BADGER system will help improve the nation’s satellite operations capability, strengthen national security, and further solidify New Mexico’s role as a global hub for defense and space innovation. 

“Throughout my time in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, I’ve been proud to support New Mexico’s growing role as a leader in emerging defense and space technologies,” said Heinrich. “BlueHalo’s successful milestone demonstration of the BADGER satellite communication system represents a major breakthrough for America’s strategic advantage in space and will help support and strengthen our national security. I will continue working to build up space equities across the state to grow our economy and create new manufacturing jobs that New Mexicans can build their families around.”

BlueHalo employs over 400 people in New Mexico and is the lead industry partner for the Space Rapid Capabilities Office (Space RCO) on the nation’s Satellite Communication Augmentation Resource (SCAR) program, which seeks to modernize and increase capacity of the existing, aging, Satellite Control Network (SCN) first established in 1959. 

Heinrich led the effort to establish the Space RCO in the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Space RCO is a direct reporting unit of the U.S. Space Force.

Currently, the United States Government relies upon the SCN, a system of 19 globally distributed antennas that supports launch and day-to-day control of U.S. government satellites, including defense and intelligence satellites. The Space Force’s SCN provides critical launch and operations support for satellites worth billions of dollars with a broad range of missions. On an average day, the SCN makes over 450 contacts with satellites. The SCN is facing sustainment and obsolescence issues while demands on the system are increasing. The U.S. Space Force is responsible for managing, sustaining and upgrading the network. 

In August, BlueHalo successfully demonstrated its target tracking and core digital beamforming using Multi-band Software Defined Antenna (MSDA) tiles deployed on its BADGER product. The successful communication and data transfer validated BADGER’s modular, scalable architecture and demonstrated BlueHalo and Space RCO’s progress toward delivering a revolutionary augmentation to our Nation’s satellite command and control capabilities. The BADGER system will maximize automation, flexibility, and commonality while enabling continuous modernization. 

According to a recent GAO report, the Space RCO’s SCAR program, being executed by BlueHalo in Albuquerque, will increase the number of contacts from 1 per antenna to 18+ contacts per antenna addressing capacity challenges. The program will also decrease operations costs for taxpayers by 82% from $8.75/min on the current SCN to $1.60/min for SCAR while also having lower maintenance costs.  The SCN has been operating at over 75% capacity for the last decade with launch supports nearly tripling as the U.S. continues to proliferate space. The SCN requires an updated long-term sustainment plan, and the BADGER technology provides a solution offering the nation needs to close the capacity gaps and cost challenges with prototype delivery expected in 2025 and production units to follow.  

Heinrich has played a key role in strengthening New Mexico’s ability to create the jobs of the future, inspire the next generation of STEM leaders, and secure the state’s role in national security.

Heinrich recently welcomed BlueHalo’s announcement to expand its existing New Mexico campus through significant improvements and capital investments in an existing facility located in Albuquerque’s Sandia Science and Technology Park.

In May 2022, Heinrich welcomed the U.S. Space Force’s announcement of a $1.4 billion contract to Albuquerque-based company, BlueHalo, for enabling the modernization of satellite operations.