DARPA Kicks Off Program to Develop Low-Earth Orbit Satellite ‘Translator’

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — DARPA has selected 11 teams for Phase 1 of the Space-Based Adaptive Communications Node program, known as Space-BACN. Space-BACN aims to create a low-cost, reconfigurable optical communications terminal that adapts to most optical intersatellite link standards, translating between diverse satellite constellations. Space-BACN would create an “internet” of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, enabling seamless communication between military/government and commercial/civil satellite constellations that currently are unable to talk with each other.

The agency selected teams from academia and large and small commercial companies, including multiple performers awarded first-time contracts with the Department of Defense.

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NASA, Industry to Collaborate on Space Communications by 2025

An artist rendering of a NASA Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) in orbit. TDRS provides a vital communications link between ground facilities and the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope and a host of Earth science satellites. The agency would decommission TDRS to enable commercial providers to support future near-Earth communication mission requirements. (Credits: NASA)

CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — NASA selected six American satellite communications (SATCOM) providers on April 20 to begin developing and demonstrating near-Earth space communication services that may support future agency missions.

For more than a year, the agency has been evaluating the feasibility of employing commercial SATCOM networks for near-Earth operations as it works to decommission its near-Earth satellite fleet. This approach would allow NASA to focus more time and resources on its deep space exploration and science missions.

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