DARPA Considering Including Only Two Payloads in Blackjack Satellites
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will likely demo only two payloads for its Blackjack program.
According to program manager Stephen Forbes, while the payload lineup has not yet been finalized, it has been decided that Blackjack satellites will carry a radio frequency package for communications and geolocation, as well as an overhead persistent infrared missile warning payload.
Those are the primary payloads for the program and will probably require different bus designs, Forbes told Breaking Defense.
DARPA launched the Blackjack program to demonstrate a network of small and cheap satellites in low Earth orbit for military uses.
Forbes said Blackjack is not aimed at solving specific capability or technical gaps related to a specific sensor payload, which is why DARPA is bringing in as many contractors as possible.
The program has already advanced to its second phase, with DARPA working with more than a dozen contractors, each handling a different technology set.
Among the contractors is Lockheed Martin. In April, the aerospace company received a $27.3 million contract modification to continue its satellite integration work for the Blackjack program.
SEAKR Engineering was also awarded a follow-on contract worth up to $60.4 million for Phase 2 and Phase 3 development of Pit Boss, a cloud-based, autonomous mission management system for Blackjack satellites.
Three contractors, namely Blue Canyon Technologies, Telesat and Airbus US, have received contracts for Phase 2 satellite bus designs.
Meanwhile, Raytheon Technologies and Danbury Mission Technologies have active contracts for the development of overhead persistent infrared payloads designed to track missiles.
Forbes stressed that not all products under development will make it to orbit.
Tags: Blackjack program Breaking Defense DARPA LEO constellations satellite payload space Stephen Forbes