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US changes the game with Blackjack ‘plug and play’ military satellites

WASHINGTON, (BM) – Lockheed Martin won the Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Office (DARPA) contract to integrate Blackjack satellites, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Spacenews.

Blackjack is a project to deploy a constellation of 20 satellites in low Earth orbit by 2022 to demonstrate that a low-orbit satellite system can provide global high-speed communications.

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Lockheed Martin will integrate Blackjack satellite platform interfaces, satellite payload and the so-called stand-alone Pit Boss data processors.

Work will be performed at the company’s satellite manufacturing facility in Sunnyvale, California.

The contract value will be $ 5.8 million.

Recall that the DARPA Blackjack program is designed to demonstrate the key technologies necessary for the deployment of a global high-speed network of low-orbit satellites, which the US Department of Defense can use for reconnaissance of a missile defense system, broadband communications or navigation.

For the Blackjack program, DARPA selected satellite platforms from Airbus, Blue Canyon Technologies, and Telesat. Payload providers are Collins Aerospace, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Trident, SA Photonics, Airbus, Systems & Technology Research, Sky Quantum and L3Harris. Scientific Systems, SEAKR Engineering and BAE Systems are developing the Pit Boss concept.

DARPA wants to make satellites according to the “plug and play” concept: new payloads can be added without the need to redesign the satellite platform. This approach will allow the military to reduce the cost and speed up production.

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It is planned that the first two satellites will be launched in 2021, and another 18 in 2022.

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