DARPA Sat Project Could Change Industry
A fractionated satellite concept that replaces large satellites with clusters of wirelessly-linked modular spacecraft flying in loose formation has the potential to drive cultural change and reinvigorate a â€œmatureâ€ U.S. space industry, proponents say.
Design work is starting on phase 2 of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agencyâ€™s (DARPA) System F6 program to demonstrate a satellite architecture based on fractionated modules. The work, being undertaken by Orbital Sciences, will lead to a planned flight demonstration in 2013, says DARPA tactical technology office program manager Paul Eremenko. â€œWe just passed preliminary design review and are about to embark on detailed design, with critical design review about a year from now,â€ he says.
However the ramifications of the concept, which divides responsibility for various satellite functions between modules, could be as far-reaching to the industry on the ground as it might be to methods for operating in space, supporters say. â€œIt could potentially revolutionize the entire way we operate and build spacecraft,â€ DARPA program manager Owen Brown says.
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