Rocket Lab Electron Launch Set for Sunday

DARPA Prototype Reflectarray Antenna Offers High Performance in Small Package

MMA Design successfully completes deployment testing of its innovative high-compaction ratio reflectarray antenna in its Louisville, Colorado facilities. (Credit: DARPA)

Editor’s Note: The 13-day window for the launch of DARPA’s R3D2 satellite aboard Rocket Lab’s Electron booster from New Zealand opens no earlier than March 16.

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — DARPA’s Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration (R3D2) is set for launch in mid-March to space-qualify a new type of membrane reflectarray antenna. The antenna, made of a tissue-thin Kapton membrane, packs tightly for stowage during launch and then will deploy to its full size of 2.25 meters in diameter once it reaches low Earth orbit.

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Griffin Taps DARPA Official to Head New Space Development Agency

Fred Kennedy

SpaceNews reports that Dr. Fred Kennedy, who is director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO), has been tapped to run the Defense Department’s new Space Development Agency.

Kennedy was tapped for the post by Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin. The new agency will attempt to cut through Pentagon bureaucracy and red tape to develop and procure next generation military space systems more rapidly and less expensively.

According to his biography, Kennedy joined DARPA as TTO deputy director in January 2017. He had previously served as the senior policy advisor for national security space and aviation in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
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SSL Pulls Out of DARPA’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites Program

DARPA Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites Program satellite. (Credit: DARPA)

PALO ALTO, CA, Jan. 30, 2019 /CNW/ – SSL, a Maxar Technologies company (NYSE:MAXR) (TSX:MAXR), and a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, today announced it has exercised its right to terminate participation in the Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program, a public-private partnership with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), citing a need to focus its resources on ensuring optimal returns when weighed against other capital priorities, such as WorldView Legion. SSL remains unwavering in its commitment to its customers on all existing contracts.

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Rocket Lab to Conduct Dedicated Launch for DARPA

Ellectron launches NASA’s Venture Class CubeSats. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Huntington Beach, California. January 22, 2019 (Rocket Lab PR) – Small satellite launch company Rocket Lab announced today that its first mission of 2019 will be a dedicated launch of a 150kg satellite for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The mission highlights US Government demand for the type of responsive, ultra-flexible and rapidly acquired launch service that characterizes the Rocket Lab launch experience on Electron.

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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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Griffin Drafts DARPA to Create DOD Space Development Agency

Mike Griffin

SpaceNews reports that Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin has drafted DARPA to help put together the DOD’s Space Development Agency, which is designed to help cut through red tape to develop new systems rapidly.

In a Dec. 6 memo titled, “Space Development Agency Study Team Direction and Tasking,” Griffin directed Fred Kennedy, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, to lead a study team and come up with recommendations for the “implementation of the Space Development Agency.”

A DoD source shared the contents of the memo with SpaceNews. The memo was sent to key leaders across the department, including the secretaries of the military services, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Strategic Command, as well as the director of the National Reconnaissance Office.

Kennedy was not given a lot of time to complete the study. “I expect this effort will require 45 to 60 days,” Griffin wrote. The DARPA team has to provide an “interim progress report” within 30 days to Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and the space governance committee.

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 Names Potential Sites for Launch Challenge, Eighteen Teams Prequalify

DARPA Launch Challenge candidate sites (Credit: DARPA)

ARLINGTON, Va. (NASA PR) — DARPA has narrowed the potential launch locations for the DARPA Launch Challenge to eight, with options for both vertical and horizontal launch. The challenge will culminate in late 2019 with two separate launches to low Earth orbit within weeks of each other from two different sites. Competitors will receive information about the final launch sites, payloads, and targeted orbit in the weeks prior to each launch.

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Descartes Labs Joins DARPA Geospatial Cloud Analytics Program

Descartes Labs has joined DARPA’s Geospatial Cloud Analytics (GCA) program. The contract award is worth $2.9 million with a phase 2 option of $4.2 million, for a possible total of $7.2 million, the company said in a blog post.

DARPA describes the program’s purpose as providing “instant access to the most up-to-date images anywhere in the world, as well as the cutting-edge tools to analyze them.”

“Under the GCA program, teams selected by DARPA will use the Descartes Labs Platform to build global-scale applications and offer them in the marketplace as a commercial service for data scientists,” Descartes Labs said in the blog post.

“The Descartes Labs Platform features a cloud-native infrastructure designed to provide the storage, computing, access, and tools needed to analyze massive, complex geospatial datasets, making it an ideal foundation for this DARPA program,” the company added.

“The GCA marketplace will address several specific analysis objectives, including: food security (strategic analytics), fracking (operational analytics), and maritime change detection/illegal fishing (tactical analytics),” Descartes said.

“To support these objectives, and pave the way for the development of additional applications, Descartes Labs will integrate up to 75 new datasets sourced from members of a diverse data partner network,” the company added.

DARPA Seeks 72-hour Space Environment Forecasts with Hourly Updates

An aurora, visible at the Earth’s poles as a result of a geomagnetic storm, can interfere with satellite operations. DARPA’s Space Environment Exploitation program aims to develop precision forecasting of a host of disturbances in the near-Earth space environment. (Credit: DARPA)

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — Models for providing hourly terrestrial weather forecasts anywhere in the world have become increasingly precise—our smartphones buzz or chirp with local alerts of approaching thunderstorms, heavy snow, flash floods, and big events like tornados and hurricanes.

The military relies on accurate weather forecasts for planning complex operations in the air, on ground, and at sea. But when it comes to predicting environmental conditions in specific locations within the vast volume of space, no similar forecasting exists.

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Phantom Express Engine Testing Advances

The engine is being tested for Boeing’s Phantom Express, which is a DARPA-funded project focused on developing a low-cost, reusable satellite launch vehicle capable of launching 10 times in 10 days.

First Engine Assembled for DARPA & Boeing Reusable Experimental Spaceplane

Aerojet Rocketdyne technicians complete final assembly on the first AR-22 rocket engine, shown at its facility located at Stennis Space Center. The engine was built for Boeing as part of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Experimental Spaceplane program. This new Boeing spaceplane, called Phantom Express, is intended to demonstrate a new paradigm for more routine, responsive and affordable space access. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss., June 4, 2018 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) – Aerojet Rocketdyne has completed assembly of its first AR-22 rocket engine built for Boeing (NYSE:BA) as part of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Experimental Spaceplane program. This new Boeing spaceplane, called Phantom Express, is intended to demonstrate a new paradigm for more routine, responsive and affordable space access.

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