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

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
December 18, 2020
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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).

By incorporating commercial sector advances in low-Earth orbit (LEO), including designs used for LEO broadband internet service, the goal of the Blackjack program is to demonstrate that a constellation of LEO satellites meets U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) performance and payload requirements, at a significantly lower cost, with shorter design cycles and with easier and more frequent technology upgrades.

The Blackjack program aims to establish an economy of scale not previously available with current National Security Space (NSS) assets, which are large, costly, and would take years to replace if degraded or destroyed.

“BCT is proud to have reached this new milestone in the development of the Blackjack program for DARPA,” said George Stafford, President and CEO of Blue Canyon Technologies. “The completion of this CDR has instilled further confidence in our design and displayed more power capability than was initially expected. This not only reflects the hard work and expertise of the extremely talented team at BCT, but also the great potential for the Blackjack program to reduce costs while maximizing performance capabilities and meeting payload requirements.”

The Blackjack program CDR took place over a two-day period at BCT’s Satellite Constellation Factory in Lafayette, Colorado. It was conducted both virtually, as well in person, while in complete accordance with appropriate COVID-19 safety precautions to keep team members from each organization safe.

With approximately 40 engineers and scientific partners participating, BCT was able to demonstrate maturity of the X-SAT Saturn-class bus design, validating the design and capabilities of the system in support of the Blackjack program. The CDR completes the third milestone, which will culminate in the first two flight buses being delivered to DARPA for payload integration in August 2021.

The DARPA contract has an initial award value of $14.2 million with a total potential value of $99.4 million if all options are exercised. Now that the final design of the multi-mission bus has been completed, BCT will begin procurement for the build of the first four satellites. The customized X-SAT bus will include state-of-the-art electric propulsion, a robust power system, command and data handling, RF communications and dedicated payload interfaces capable of hosting several different DoD payloads. The spacecraft will be delivered on a rapid timeline to support the critical DARPA demonstration schedule, with the first spacecraft to be delivered in mid-2021.

About Blue Canyon Technologies

Blue Canyon Technologies, Inc., (BCT) offers a diverse portfolio of innovative, reliable and affordable spacecraft that enable a broad range of missions and technological advancements for the new space economy, reducing the barriers of space entry. BCT is currently supporting nearly 50 unique missions with over 90 spacecraft and has more than 90 satellites in production in their newly developed 80,000-square-foot facility in Lafayette, Colorado.

BCT has supported missions for The U.S. Air Force, NASA, The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and provided the Attitude Control Systems for the first interplanetary CubeSats, which successfully traveled to Mars. The company has been recognized with Inc. Magazine’s 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies, 2019 Best in Biz, 2019 ColoradoBiz Made in Colorado Emerging Manufacturer Winner and the 2020 Tibbetts Award.

For the latest news on Blue Canyon Technologies and for other company information, please visit You can follow the company on Instagram here or Twitter here.

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