DARPA to demonstrate satellite mesh networks and orbital autonomy with first Blackjack launch this year

May 27, 2020
DARPA is evaluating satellite spacecraft buses from Airbus, Blue Canyon Technologies, and Telesat. A final bus selection will be made in 2020.

ARLINGTON, Va. – The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., will launch its first Blackjack satellite into orbit later this year, with more to follow in 2021. C4ISRnet reports. Continue reading original article

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

27 May 2020 -- With Blackjack, DARPA seeks to demonstrate the value of low-Earth-orbit satellites for the U.S. Department of Defense. The small satellites will carry advanced technologies that will demonstrate space-based mesh networks and constellation autonomy.

The first experimental satellite will be Mandrake 1, a cubesat hosting supercomputer processing chips. Mandrake 2 will use two cubesats to demonstrate the possibility of a space-based mesh network by sharing data over optical intersatellite links.

Wildcard, another payload, will experiment with links to tactical radios from orbit over a software-defined radio. A fourth unnamed experiment will host a number of advanced thirty party algorithms to test on orbit.

Related: DARPA Blackjack program focuses on risk reduction flights and simulations to prepare for full demonstration

Related: SEAKR pushing-on with military research project to create space networking avionics for small satellites

Related: Military researchers ask industry for autonomous vehicle swarms technology with trusted computing built-in

John Keller, chief editor
Military & Aerospace Electronics

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