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Lockheed Martin’s New Contract With DARPA Can Disrupt The Future Of Space

An artist’s concept of Blackjack. Image courtesy of DARPA.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Lockheed Martin a us$5.8 million contract for the first phase of satellite integration on the Blackjack program.

Lockheed Martin will define and manage interfaces between Blackjack’s bus, payload and Pit Boss – its autonomous, space-based command and data processor. Additional scope includes testbed validation of internal and external vehicle interfaces. Program work will primarily be performed in Sunnyvale, California.

“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. “This is an exciting new approach to plug-n-play design for LEO and we are up for the challenge.”

DARPA’s Blackjack program aims to develop and demonstrate the critical elements for a global high-speed network in low earth orbit (LEO) that provides the Department of Defense with highly connected, autonomous, resilient, and persistent coverage employing multiple payload types and missions. Future phases of Blackjack are expected to include build, test, and launch of a demonstration constellation in 2021-2022.

This announcement was made on 25 April 2020.

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