Lockheed Martin will commence the first phase of satellite integration on DARPA’s Blackjack program, a constellation of low-earth-orbiting (LEO) spacecraft to keep the US Military perpetually connected and informed.
The US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s Blackjack program aims to demonstrate a global high-speed communications network in LEO to replace expensive geo-synchronous orbiting satellites that will provide the US DoD connected, autonomous, and persistent coverage employing multiple payload types and missions.
Under a $5.8M contract, Lockheed Martin will define and manage interfaces between Blackjack’s bus, payload and Pit Boss - its space-based command and data processor.
“Lockheed Martin has built and integrated a variety of payload types and sizes for every type of mission and we bring all of that experience to the Blackjack program,” said Sarah Reeves, vice president of Missile Defense Programs at Lockheed Martin in a press release.
Future phases of Blackjack are expected to include build, test, and launch of a demonstration constellation in 2021-2022.
National Security Space (NSS) assets, critical to U.S. warfighting capabilities, traditionally reside in geosynchronous orbit to deliver persistent overhead access to any point on the globe.
In the increasingly contested space environment, these costly, systems have become vulnerable targets that would take years to replace if degraded or destroyed.
The program goal is to show LEO performance that is on par with current systems in geosynchronous orbit with the spacecraft combined bus, payload(s), and launch costs under $6 million per orbital node while the payloads meet size, weight, and power constraints of the commercial bus.