Hoeven announces Space Development Agency expansion in North Dakota

Sen. John Hoeven

The Space Development Agency (SDA) is expanding its operations at the Grand Forks Air Force Base in northeastern North Dakota, U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) announced on Aug. 7.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates SDA’s long-term commitment to its operations at the Grand Forks Air Force Base,” Sen. Hoeven said on Monday.  

At the base, the SDA plans to construct the Satellite Test and Checkout Center, a 25,000-square-feet facility that will support the agency’s low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite mission, which will serve as the main support for all U.S. military communications.

Specifically, the new center will conduct initial operations for the hundreds of satellites SDA plans to launch, testing their components and verifying they are ready to join the SDA network, according to information provided by Sen. Hoeven’s staff.  

During the announcement, Sen. Hoeven was joined by SDA Director Derek Tournear. They said the center is slated for completion in 2026 and can employ up to 250 people at the Grand Forks Air Force Base. 

Through his role on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Sen. Hoeven secured $18 million for construction funding in fiscal year 2022; $4 million in FY 2023 for construction; and an additional $4 million in the U.S. Senate’s FY 2024 funding legislation for the center’s construction. The senator also plans to work to provide the final $4 million in FY 2025, bringing the total construction funding for the center to $30 million.

“Together with Director Tournear, we’ve worked to secure $30 million in construction funding for the mission’s facilities, as well as $325 million to support its ongoing operations,” said Sen. Hoeven. “The LEO satellite mission places North Dakota at the center of U.S. military operations, enabling members of every branch of our Armed Forces to execute their missions anywhere in the world.

“Moreover, this mission builds upon the wide array of partnerships we’ve worked to bring to this region, further positioning Grand Forks to offer unmatched support to future missions as well as research and development opportunities,” he said.

“The Space Development Agency’s presence at Grand Forks Air Force Base is critical to the agency’s success, both in terms of geography, and because it allows our proximity to some of today’s most important warfighting missions,” said Tournear. “We are very grateful for the outstanding support we’ve received from the base, the community, and the state of North Dakota as we put in place the ground systems needed to support the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture.”