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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DARPA Completes Key Milestone on Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapons Program

Artist’s illustration of hypersonic missile. (Credit: DARPA)

Risk reduction milestone paves way for airborne tests this year

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — DARPA and the U.S. Air Force (USAF) today announced successful completion of captive carry tests of two variants of the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) and are ready to proceed to first free-flight testing within the calendar year. The joint Agency and Service effort seeks to develop and demonstrate critical technologies to enable an effective and affordable air-launched hypersonic cruise missile.

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Department of Defense Announces New DARPA Director, Dr. Victoria Coleman

WASHINGTON, August 31, 2020 (DoD PR) — Today, the Department of Defense named Dr. Victoria Coleman as the director of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). 

Dr. Coleman’s career spans over 30 years in academia, the private sector, and government, including previous service as the founding Chair of DARPA’s Microsystems Exploratory Council and membership on the Defense Science Board.

She has led cutting edge research and development across the technology sector, to include service as the Chief Executive Officer of Atlas AI; Senior Vice President at Technicolor; Chief Technology Officer of Connected Home Business; Vice President, Engineering at Yahoo!; Vice President, Software Engineering at Hewlett-Packard Palm Global Business Unit; and Director for Security Initiatives at Intel.

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Miniature Telescope Demonstration Focuses on Sharpening View of Distant Objects in Space

DARPA’s Deformable Mirror CubeSat deployed from the International Space Station July 13. (Credit: NASA)

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — A recently deployed DARPA CubeSat seeks to demonstrate technology that could improve imaging of distant objects in space and allow powerful space telescopes to fit into small satellites. DARPA’s Deformable Mirror (DeMi) CubeSat deployed from the International Space Station July 13, beginning the technology demonstration of a miniature space telescope with a small deformable mirror called a microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) mirror.

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Parts Come Together This Year for DARPA’s Robotic In-Space Mechanic

Flight manipulator arm, part of the RSGS robotic payload. (Credit: Naval Research Laboratory)

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — Eyeing a launch in 2023, DARPA’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program will focus the remainder of this year on completing the elements of the robotic payload. The objective of RSGS is to create an operational dexterous robotic capability to repair satellites in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO), extending satellite life spans, enhancing resilience, and improving reliability for the current U.S. space infrastructure.

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Northrop Grumman’s SpaceLogistics Subsidiary Selected by DARPA for Robotic Servicing Mission

The Mission Robotic Vehicle, shown with DARPA’s RSGS Robotic Payload is pioneering robotic servicing of satellites. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

DULLES, Va., March 4, 2020 (Northrop Grumman PR) – SpaceLogistics LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has been selected by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as its commercial partner for the agency’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program.

The groundbreaking mission will feature the first-ever commercial robotic servicing spacecraft and aims to expand the market for satellite servicing of both commercial and government client satellites with advanced robotics technology. The program objectives include enhanced capabilities such as in-orbit repair, augmentation, assembly, detailed inspection and relocation of client satellites.

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Watch Astra Space Launch Today Live From Alaska

The launch is scheduled for today, weather permitting. Tune in and see if it flies, dies or just sits there for another day.

UPDATE: Launch postponed until Sunday due to weather. Time TBA.

Derek Tournear Named Director of DOD’s Space Development Agency

Derek Tournear

WASHINGTON (DoD PR) — The Department of Defense (DoD) today announced the selection of Dr. Derek Tournear as the first permanent director of the Space Development Agency. 

Established in March, the Space Development Agency is responsible for unifying and integrating the Department’s space development efforts, monitoring the Department’s threat-driven future space architecture, and accelerating fielding of new military space capabilities necessary to ensure U.S. technological and military advantages in space. To achieve this mission, SDA is defining the National Defense Space Architecture—an integrated, coherent architecture capable of addressing the eight critical, yet unmet, priorities of the DoD Space Vision.

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Saturn Satellite Networks to Acquire NovaWurks

Space News reports that Saturn Satellite Networks has reached a deal to acquire NovaWurks, a California company that builds modular satellites.

Saturn and Novawurks did not disclose the terms of the transaction. Tom Choi, Saturn co-founder and executive chairman, told SpaceNews by email that the deal is “well into seven figures in U.S. dollars.”

Saturn, a firm founded by former executives of fleet operator ABS of Bermuda to build Nationsat, a digital platform for small geostationary satellites, signed a definitive agreement to acquire NovaWurks, a company that has conducted demonstrations of its Hyper Integrated Satlets (HISats) including a 2018 spaceflight demonstration for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Saturn plans to acquire NovaWurks over three years for cash and stocks. Once the deal is completed, NovaWurks will become a wholly owned Saturn subsidiary and its shareholders will become minority shareholders of Saturn.

Through the acquisition, Saturn seeks to accelerate its Nationsat program.

A Brief History of Spaceport America

Sunset at the “Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space” terminal hangar facility at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)

UPDATED: 8/20/19, 12:08 p.m. PDT

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Sometime in 2020, if all goes according to plan, British billionaire Richard Branson will board Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity at Spaceport America in New Mexico and take the first commercial suborbital space flight in history.

The landmark flight, which Virgin has been trying to conduct for 15 years, will also be the culmination of a 30-year effort by New Mexico to become a commercial space power.

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BAE Systems Wins DARPA Contract to Develop Machine Learning Capabilities for Space Situational Awareness

ARLINGTON, Va. (BAE Systems PR) — BAE Systems has been awarded a Phase 2 contract to develop machine learning capabilities aimed to help the military gain better awareness of space scenarios for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The goal of DARPA’s Hallmark Tools, Capabilities, and Evaluation Methodology (Hallmark-TCEM) program is to not only develop and evaluate tools and capabilities that increase an operator’s understanding of space events, but also enhance the ability to select effective courses of action for any given situation.

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Mike Griffin Alienating Friends & Enemies Alike, Firing Scientists at New Pentagon Job

Mike Griffin

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin has had a tumultuous time since taking over as undersecretary of defense for research and engineering in February.

In his role as the Defense Department’s chief technology officer, Griffin has been criticized for his efforts to overhaul the Pentagon’s costly and time-consuming development and procurement of new systems through the newly established Space Development Agency (SDA).

Key personnel have departed as critics have attacked Griffin for what they view as his erratic management and decision making. In addition to SDA, he is in charge of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU).

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