Blackjack Program Successfully Deploys Two Mandrake 2 Satellites

Mandrake 2 satellites (Credit: DARPA)

Achievement is key step toward realization of global high-speed space network

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — DARPA successfully deployed two satellites on June 30 as part of the SpaceX Transporter 2 launch. Both Mandrake 2 spacecraft, Able and Baker, are functioning well and progressing through checkout and commissioning. Conceived as an early risk-reduction flight for DARPA’s Blackjack  program, the Mandrake 2 mission will prove out advanced laser communications technologies for a broad government stakeholder team that includes DARPA, Space Development Agency (SDA), Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV), and Office of the Secretary of Defense’s (OSD) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) office.

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LeoStella Delivers First Satellite in Manufacture Agreement with Loft Orbital

TUKWILA, Wash., June 24, 20211 (LeoStella PR) – LeoStella, a specialized satellite constellation design and manufacturing company, delivered its first satellite to Loft Orbital Solutions Inc. (Loft Orbital). LeoStella delivered the “Yet Another Mission-3” (YAM-3) satellite to Cape Canaveral for an upcoming SpaceX launch. The YAM-3 satellite will host a variety of payloads, including a demonstration for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Blackjack program and an Internet of Things payload for Eutelsat. The satellite is part of a broader contract to build and integrate satellite buses for several upcoming Loft Orbital missions.

The delivery of this satellite demonstrates LeoStella’s ability to leverage its continuous manufacturing line of commercial satellites to respond to short-term mission needs.

“We have built a great partnership with Loft Orbital,” said Brian Rider, chief technology officer at LeoStella. “By pulling satellites off our production line, we are able to tailor them for Loft’s Payload Hub and get them delivered in less than half the time normally required for a satellite build cycle. Loft has a unique approach to ‘Make Space Simple’ for their customers. We are proud to be part of their ecosystem of enabling technologies and processes.” 

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DARPA Satellites Damaged in Processing Accident, Removed from SpaceX Transporter-1 Rideshare Mission

When a SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off with dozens of satellites aboard on the Transporter-1 rideshare mission later this month, it will do so without a pair of experimental satellites from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

SpaceNews reports the two small satellites that make up DARPA’s Mandrake 2 mission were damaged during a pre-launch processing mishap at SpaceX processing facility in Florida.

According to an industry source the mishap happened while the satellites were being stacked and the payload separation system was accidentally released. SpaceX did not respond to questions on what caused the mishap.

The Mandrake 2 satellites are equipped with optical inter-satellite links for broadband data transmission. DARPA is testing this technology as the possible basis of future optically meshed computer networks in low Earth orbit.

The satellites are part of DARPA’s Blackjack program, which is focused on developing advanced space technologies.

SpaceX’s Transporter-1 rideshare mission is now scheduled for Jan. 21 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Falcon 9 will deploy the payloads into sun-synchronous orbit.

Small Satellite Leader Blue Canyon Technologies Completes CDR for DARPA Blackjack Program

BCT demonstrated maturity and capability of its X-SAT bus design which will enhance LEO communications for the U.S. Department of Defense

BOULDER, Colo. (Blue Canyon Technology PR) — Leading small satellite manufacturer and mission services provider Blue Canyon Technologies, Inc. (“BCT” or “Blue Canyon”) announced today that it has completed its critical design review (CDR) for the Blackjack Program, a military space capabilities demonstration being developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

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Telesat U.S. Services Awarded DARPA Contract for Blackjack Track B Research, Development and in-Orbit Demonstration with Telesat LEO

Telesat U.S. Services will deliver two spacecraft in less than one year to showcase the use of Optical Inter-Satellite Links in orbit for government requirements

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, October 14, 2020 (Telesat U.S. Services PR) – Telesat U.S. Services, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of leading global satellite operator Telesat, has been awarded a contract by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) for the development and in-orbit demonstration of commercial low-Earth-orbit (LEO) spacecraft buses in a LEO constellation network with robust low-latency communications features as part of DARPA’s Blackjack program.

Following Telesat’s initial 2018 contract for system engineering and interface definition under the Blackjack Phase 1 program, Telesat U.S. Services will develop and demonstrate the Blackjack Phase 2/3 Track B technology, including in-orbit testing the capabilities of Optical Inter-Satellite Links (OISLs).  

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SEAKR Selected As Pit Boss Prime For DARPA’s Blackjack Program Advanced Space Processing

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (SEAKR PR) — SEAKR® Engineering, Inc. (SEAKR) is pleased to announce it has been awarded as the prime contractor for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Pit Boss Phase I Option II contract to further expand existing contractual work supporting the Blackjack program. The award is part of a three phase effort seeking on-orbit demonstration of full processing capability in a multi-satellite constellation.

DARPA’s Blackjack program focuses on integrating commercial satellite technologies into a constellation of affordable, small, secure, and resilient military satellites. 

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DARPA Awards Contract to Lockheed Martin for Blackjack Program

SUNNYVALE, Calif – Apr. 27, 2020 – DARPA has awarded Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) a $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. 

For additional information, visit our website: www.lockheedmartin.com

About Lockheed Martin 

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 110,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. 

Airbus & Partner OneWeb Win DARPA Contract to Support Blackjack Program

HERNDON, Va., USA, 14 January 2019 – Airbus Defense and Space Inc. has been awarded a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a satellite bus in support of the Blackjack program.

DARPA describes the Blackjack program as an architecture demonstration intending to show the military utility of global low-earth orbit constellations and mesh networks of lower size, weight and cost. DARPA wants to buy commercial satellite buses and pair them with military sensors and payloads. The bus drives each satellite by generating power, controlling attitude, providing propulsion, transmitting spacecraft telemetry, and providing general payload accommodation including mounting locations for the military sensors.

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DARPA Selects Telesat’s LEO System to Support DARPA’s Blackjack Program

OTTAWA, Canada, November 27, 2018 (Telesat PR) – DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has awarded a contract to Telesat under which Telesat will undertake investigations that could lead to the Department of Defense (DoD) making greater use of commercial low earth orbit satellite constellations, such as Telesat’s LEO system, for DoD’s future space-based communications.

The investigations will include evaluating the advantages of DoD using the same spacecraft buses as those Telesat will use in its LEO constellation and having these future DoD spacecraft link to Telesat’s LEO constellation via laser-based communications. The result of these investigations could lead to DoD using Telesat’s LEO system for its global broadband connectivity needs.

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Blue Canyon Technologies Awarded First Phase 1 Contract of DARPA’s Blackjack Program

Blackjack program (Credit: DARPA)

BOULDER, Colo. (Blue Canyon Technologies PR) — Blue Canyon Technologies) Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) has been awarded a $1.54 million contract for Phase 1 – Architecture and Design of a spacecraft for the highly sought-after Blackjack Program, a military space capabilities demonstration developed by The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

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DARPA Requests Quarter Billion for Space Development Programs

Artist’s conception of Boeing’s Experimental Spaceplane One (XS-1). (Credit: Boeing)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

DARPA has requested $254.67 million to fund a variety of space programs for FY 2019. The total includes funds for work on an experimental space plane, a responsive launch competition, and robotic on-orbit servicing of satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GEO).

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