Author Topic: DARPA Blackjack Program  (Read 7739 times)

Offline gongora

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DARPA Blackjack Program
« on: 09/04/2018 03:08 am »
There was a recent FISO presentation from the Blackjack program manager, it's a good intro to the concept and what their plans are for the next few years.  (He obviously can't dive into extreme detail since parts of it are currently in the acquisition process and many of the details would be classified.)  The Blackjack program manager, Paul "Rusty" Thomas, has an interesting range of experience on programs ranging from the Iridium constellation at Motorola to Dragon production at SpaceX and a couple different military satellite programs.

A recent interview with Rusty Thomas on Blackjack:
https://www.c4isrnet.com/thought-leadership/2018/07/30/the-calculus-of-cheaper-military-comms-satellites/

The FISO telecons can be found at https://fiso.spiritastro.net/archivelist.htm

Offline Asteroza

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Re: DARPA Blackjack Program
« Reply #1 on: 09/04/2018 03:51 am »
Wow, this screams "I'll take one plane of OneWeb buses, and another of Starlink" with beefier secondary payload slots. Literally have a flyoff to determine who gets the big end contract.

Offline gongora

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Re: DARPA Blackjack Program
« Reply #2 on: 11/27/2018 07:33 pm »
DARPA has begun awarding contracts for Blackjack.

Solicitation Number: HR001118S0032
https://www.fbo.gov/spg/ODA/DARPA/CMO/Awards/HR0011-19-C-0003.html

Blue Canyon Technologies awarded $1,541,649 on 2018-10-12
[Space News] Blue Canyon Technologies wins constellation contract

Telesat
DARPA Selects Telesat’s LEO System to Support DARPA’s Blackjack Program
Quote
Ottawa, Canada, November 27, 2018 – 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.

The award to Telesat was made by DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO) under its Blackjack program. Blackjack is an architecture demonstration of a proliferated small satellite constellation in Low Earth Orbit to provide global persistence, low latency communications, and rapid technology refresh. This will be accomplished by leveraging commercial space technologies including commoditized spacecraft buses, ground infrastructure, and user segments at unprecedented costs.

Telesat will work with its sub-contractor Leidos (NYSE: LDOS) to complete required deliverables under Telesat’s DARPA contract. Telesat will leverage Leidos’s experience working with government customers in creating cutting-edge emerging technologies and transition programs from R&D to fielding, including numerous programs with DARPA. 
...

Airbus awarded $2,894,563 on Nov. 19
http://aviationweek.com/awinspace/airbus-claims-second-blackjack-contract-darpa
Quote
Airbus Defense and Space Inc. has become the second satellite manufacturer awarded a contract under DARPA’s Blackjack program to demonstrate a constellation of low Earth orbit ... [article is paywalled]



[Space News] Air Force could assume bigger role in DARPA’s Blackjack program
Quote
Congress has been a huge supporter and added more than $100 million above DARPA’s request. But as the program matures, lawmakers have raised questions about its management. DARPA’s plan all along was to conduct a demonstration and then turn the program over to the Air Force. But the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center already is taking on an active role. Lawmakers want to see Blackjack accelerated and some have suggested it should move to SMC sooner rather than letter. “There’s a management issue brewing,” said an industry source.
« Last Edit: 11/27/2018 07:34 pm by gongora »

Offline gongora

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Re: DARPA Blackjack Program
« Reply #3 on: 01/11/2019 06:49 pm »
Award (HR001119C0020) to Trident Systems Incorporated on Jan. 8 for $1,464,571.
https://www.fbo.gov/spg/ODA/DARPA/CMO/Awards/HR001119C0020.html

Offline gongora

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Re: DARPA Blackjack Program
« Reply #4 on: 01/14/2019 03:11 pm »
Press release for the Airbus contract


Airbus wins DARPA contract to develop small constellation satellite bus for 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.

“Airbus has previously co-invested hundreds of millions of dollars in high-rate manufacturing technology and supply chain logistics to build large constellations of small satellites,” said Tim Deaver, Director of US Space Programs at Airbus Defense and Space, Inc. “Airbus is committed to growing manufacturing capability in the US and our government customers can leverage this commercial capability to develop low-earth orbit constellations to complement large existing systems.”

This contract positions Airbus Defense and Space, Inc., of Herndon, Va., and its strategic joint venture partner, OneWeb Satellites, of Exploration Park, Fl., as the ideal service providers for Blackjack.

High production rates and design-to-cost management techniques enable OneWeb Satellites to offer low cost constellation solutions for the U.S. government and current customers. Constellations of inexpensive satellites permit wide scale disaggregated architectures enhancing survivability across many different mission areas.

OneWeb Satellites is pioneering new value propositions in space. They are leading the design and manufacturing of ultra-high performing satellites at high-volumes.

“We have created a game changer with our overall design, supply chain and production system,” said Tony Gingiss, CEO, OneWeb Satellites. “Our team is transforming the space industry and we are in the midst of demonstrating we can deliver on our promises.”

OneWeb Satellites brings to bear capabilities which dramatically lower the cost and shorten acquisition timelines for customers thanks to a modular design and agile serial production of satellites.

The OneWeb Satellites satellite manufacturing facility in Florida is the latest step in Airbus’ continued and long-standing commitment to growth in U.S. manufacturing, job creation and investment.

This facility, which will ultimately support thousands of jobs and follows the opening of our U.S. Manufacturing Facility for A320 aircraft in Mobile, Alabama, from which we delivered our first aircraft in 2016. An A220 assembly line on the same site in Alabama will break ground in January of 2019.

With our extensive network of U.S. suppliers, Airbus is the largest consumer of U.S. aerospace and defense goods in the world – buying more than any other company or even country. Airbus invested $16.5 billion with U.S. companies in 2017, supporting 275,000 American jobs.

Offline Lar

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Re: DARPA Blackjack Program
« Reply #5 on: 01/14/2019 08:07 pm »
Looks like a potentially helpful source of backup funding for OneWeb (and also will drive some economies of scale savings on some parts of their fleet, the parts in common. Maybe)
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Offline gongora

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Re: DARPA Blackjack Program
« Reply #6 on: 02/21/2019 04:56 pm »
Presolicitation for Blackjack Pitboss
Quote
Blackjack will develop and demonstrate a low earth orbit constellation that provides global persistent coverage. This opportunity focuses on development of spacecraft autonomy hardware and software elements.

Online vaporcobra

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Re: DARPA Blackjack Program
« Reply #7 on: 03/08/2019 08:12 am »
Proposal due date was updated on March 7th.

Quote
Proposal Due Date and Time: April 12, 2019 by 2 p.m. Eastern Time

Offline gongora

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Re: DARPA Blackjack Program
« Reply #8 on: 03/15/2019 03:25 pm »
Solicitation HR001118S0032
Awards:
HR001119C0021 - March 8 - $2,696,785 - Systems & Technology Research, LLC - CLIN 0001
HR001119C0023 - March 12 - $1,868,175.00 - Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation - CLIN 0001 and 0002

Offline gongora

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Re: DARPA Blackjack Program
« Reply #9 on: 03/14/2020 07:34 pm »
Just noticed there was a recent RFI for Blackjack launches.  Individual sats will be in the 150-800kg range (all will be the same but they haven't downselected a design yet).  First launch Sep. 2021 with 2 sats.  Second launch March 2022 with 18? sats.  They can be secondary payloads.  The desired orbit for both launches is circular, at 450 km +800/-0 km altitude, with an inclination of 70 degrees +35/-20 degrees.

Request for Information for Blackjack Satellite Launch Services

Offline Comga

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Re: DARPA Blackjack Program
« Reply #10 on: 03/22/2020 04:39 am »
Just noticed there was a recent RFI for Blackjack launches.  Individual sats will be in the 150-800kg range (all will be the same but they haven't downselected a design yet).  First launch Sep. 2021 with 2 sats.  Second launch March 2022 with 18? sats.  They can be secondary payloads.  The desired orbit for both launches is circular, at 450 km +800/-0 km altitude, with an inclination of 70 degrees +35/-20 degrees.

Request for Information for Blackjack Satellite Launch Services

Excuse me?
50 to 105 degrees inclination
450 to 1250 km altitude
300 to 14,400 kg
18 and 24 months from now
It’s  not like they just haven’t selected a design.
With this much variance they haven’t selected a mission.
This seems like a fishing expedition and an exercise in exclusion.
What rockets can do the maximum combination of mass, inclination, and altitude?
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline gongora

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Re: DARPA Blackjack Program
« Reply #11 on: 03/22/2020 01:00 pm »
I don't think they care much where the first couple sats go, they'll almost certainly be rideshare payloads.

Offline RotoSequence

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Re: DARPA Blackjack Program
« Reply #12 on: 03/22/2020 09:31 pm »
If they don't particularly care where the satellites go, what could they be testing? Off the top of my head, guidance, navigation, control, positioning, and propulsion technologies are the best candidates for orbit-agnostic testing.

Offline Rocket Rancher

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Re: DARPA Blackjack Program
« Reply #13 on: 06/12/2020 12:15 am »
So what does the recent award of a separate bus and payload contract by DARPA mean?

Offline gongora

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Re: DARPA Blackjack Program
« Reply #14 on: 06/12/2020 12:54 am »
One of the main points of this program is to try and get somewhat modular sats where they can mix and match payloads on their standard buses and get them flying in a reasonable amount of time.

Offline Rocket Rancher

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Re: DARPA Blackjack Program
« Reply #15 on: 06/12/2020 01:05 am »
But is this a big commitment a for 10s of buses and payloads or are they still in the mood of throwing money around to see what spouts? This sounds like they have made a decision to move forward with  a first phase of tier 0.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: DARPA Blackjack Program
« Reply #16 on: 06/12/2020 05:48 am »
With this much variance they haven’t selected a mission.
This seems like a fishing expedition and an exercise in exclusion.
What rockets can do the maximum combination of mass, inclination, and altitude?
That's sort of the point.

Blackjack is an architecture designed to support multiple missions on multiple sat buses (some obviously smaller than others) potentially anything from LM and Boeing to items from the SSTL standard catalog.

Each mission is then a sub constellation of the whole with the whole system controlled by the Black Jack "Pit Boss" on board software.

AIUI the idea is a commander in the field can just call up a list of services (IR imaging, SAR, radio interception, improved GPS) and the system then does whatever's necessary to fulfill that request.

In this context 20 sats is quite small given each sub constellation is expected to be into the 100s to allow "persistent" coverage of a region (which suggests some quite sophisticated orbital motion planning going on to allow possibly quite drastic orbital changes ASAP with minimal fuel (to conserve life expectancy, since no matter).

The sat side of it sounds like quite a good fit for the system Airbus built up to mfg Oneweb satellites and which now has no work to occupy it.
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Offline gongora

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Re: DARPA Blackjack Program
« Reply #17 on: 06/13/2020 03:09 am »
There are now two separate programs getting started that do similar things.  I mean, they're doing REALLY similar things.  DARPA has Blackjack, and SDA is starting up their Tranche 0 constellations.  Both of them are doing some small test sats before ordering around a couple dozen sats for a larger demonstration.

[DARPA] Blackjack Focuses on Risk Reduction Flights and Simulations to Prepare for Full Demonstration
Quote
In partnership with the U.S. Space Force and Space Development Agency, DARPA’s Blackjack program is targeting flights to low-Earth orbit (LEO) later this year and 2021. Using a series of small risk reduction satellites, the program aims to demonstrate advanced technology for satellite constellation autonomy and space mesh networks. Blackjack seeks to develop and validate critical elements of global high-speed autonomous networks in LEO, proving a capability that could provide the Department of Defense with highly connected, resilient, and persistent overhead coverage.

The upcoming demonstration flights are all planned as rideshares, catching a ride to LEO on a launch with other missions. The first demonstration, Mandrake 1, is a cubesat that will carry supercomputer processing chips. Mandrake 2 is a pair of small satellites that will carry optical inter-satellite links for broadband data. These could form the basis of future optically meshed computer networks in LEO.

The program also is targeting a risk reduction payload called Wildcard, a software-defined radio that will experiment with links from LEO to tactical radios. A data fusion experiment with the ability to host advanced third party algorithms, known as massless payloads, is intended for an upcoming Loft Orbital mission.

“It's important that we get the design right,” says Paul “Rusty” Thomas, the program manager for Blackjack. “We focused first on buses and payloads, then the autonomous mission management system, which we call Pit Boss. We anticipate we'll begin integrating the first two military payloads next summer with launch via rideshare in late 2021, followed by the remainder of the Blackjack demonstration sub-constellation in 2022.”

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Re: DARPA Blackjack Program
« Reply #18 on: 01/31/2022 11:28 pm »
The first batch of Blackjack satellites is now planned for launch this fall on a SpaceX rideshare, which would be the Transporter-6 mission in October 2022.

CACI ramping up production of optical terminals for low Earth orbit satellites [dated Jan. 30]

Quote
Blackjack is an experiment to demonstrate the capabilities of small satellites in low Earth orbit for military communications, missile warning and navigation.

Optical terminals from SA Photonics already are in space as part of a DARPA demonstration called Mandrake 2. Two small satellites — launched June 30 on a SpaceX rideshare mission — were deployed by the agency to prove out optical inter-satellite link technology in preparation for the first launch of Blackjack satellites.

A DARPA spokesperson said Jan. 28 that the Mandrake 2 satellites “remain healthy and testing is ongoing.”

The first batch of Blackjack satellites will launch this fall also on a SpaceX rideshare, the spokesperson said.

Batch consists of four satellites, according to this article from April.

Quote
Julie Pecson, Lockheed Martin’s Blackjack program director, said the first four spacecraft are scheduled to launch in June 2022.

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