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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Mynaric Selected for Next Phase of DARPA Program

Phase 1 Goal to Develop Benchtop Model of Next-Generation Optical Communications Terminal for Proliferated Space Domain 

LOS ANGELES, August 10, 2022 (Mynaric PR) –  Mynaric has been selected as a key development partner to create a benchtop model of a next-generation optical communications terminal as part of Phase 1 of the Space-based adaptive communications node (Space-BACN) program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA’s Space-BACN program envisions a low-cost, scalable optical communications terminal that could be reconfigured to work with various optical intersatellite link standards allowing seamless communication among government and private-sector proprietary satellites. The announcement follows the selection of Mynaric to participate in the Space-BACN program’s Phase 0 at the end of last year and represents Mynaric’s continued success with U.S. government customers that are a driving force for the deployment of space-based, optical communication capabilities.

“Our long-standing goal to develop and manufacture scalable, cost-effective and industrialized optical communications terminals is well aligned with the objectives of DARPA’s Space-BACN program,” said Joachim Horwath, CTO of Mynaric. “Providing an adaptable solution that can operate with any other terminal irrespective of an implemented laser communications standard and without compromising on performance and affordability is an important technical challenge. It’s a task we are more than happy to tackle for DARPA and that we consider as crucial for the development of future products.”

The 14-month Phase 1 of the Space-BACN program follows the 15-week Phase 0, which was focused on developing the architectural design of the terminal. Additionally, it precedes the 20-month Phase 2 which aims to build a prototype version of the future product.

“Laser communications is widely considered as the emerging backbone and the optical fiber equivalent for space-based communication networks,” said Tina Ghataore, CCO of Mynaric. “Unleashing the full utility of these networks will require seamless integration and interoperability between optical communication architectures of governmental and commercial customers. We are honored to be able to continue to contribute to these efforts for DARPA.”

Mynaric is pushing the industry with an aggressive product development and engineering roadmap with industrialized products that reduce size, weight, power and cost without compromising performance. The CONDOR Mk3 optical communications terminal already offers configurable data rate speeds between 100 Mbps and 100 Gbps delivering higher speeds based on the mission and ensuring compatibility with the Space Development Agency’s interoperability standard among others.

About Mynaric  

Mynaric (Nasdaq: MYNA; Frankfurt Stock Exchange: M0Y) is leading the industrial revolution of laser communications by producing optical communications terminals for air, space and mobile applications. Laser communication networks provide connectivity from the sky, allowing for ultra-high data rates and secure, long-distance data transmission between moving objects for wireless terrestrial, mobility, airborne- and space-based applications. The company is headquartered in Munich, Germany, with additional locations in Los Angeles, California, and Washington, D.C. 

For more information, visit mynaric.com.   

Millennium Space Systems Demonstrates Advanced Satellite Constellation Technologies

RED-EYE automated propulsion-free orbital management and real-time on-board processing (Image Credit: Millennium Space Systems)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Millennium Space Systems PR) — Millennium Space Systems, a Boeing (NYSE: BA) company, demonstrated several new technologies – expected and unexpected – on orbit with their RED-EYE small satellite constellation. Built for DARPA, the satellite was nicknamed RED-EYE for the conspicuous bright red “remove before flight” cover used to keep the payload clean. The small satellites’ purpose was to demonstrate new avionics, communications devices, on-board processors and crosslinks.

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SEAKR Engineering Demonstrates Optical Communications on DARPA’s Mandrake 2 Satellites

Mandrake 2 satellites (Credit: DARPA)

Integrated technology allows for on-orbit networked systems

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (SEAKR Engineering PR) – SEAKR Engineering, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, announced a successful demonstration of optical inter-satellite links between two Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Mandrake 2 satellites. During the first test, more than 280 gigabits of data were transferred at a range of 114 kilometers during a period of more than 40 minutes. 

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Terran Orbital Announces Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Contract Award

BOCA RATON, Fla., May 18, 2022 (Terran Orbital PR) – Terran Orbital Corporation (NYSE: LLAP), a global leader in small satellite solutions, primarily serving the United States aerospace and defense industry, today announced that its subsidiary, PredaSAR Corporation, received a contract award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under an Other Transaction Authority for Prototype Agreement. Specific terms of the Agreement were not disclosed.

This Agreement aims to research synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite formation flying concepts and joint data collection techniques. The potential prototype will provide data products from at least two SAR satellites flying in formation and demonstrate novel data processing algorithms. The conceptual design work is expected to take several months and may lead to follow-on opportunities for prototyping and demonstrations.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Advanced Scramjet Engine Powers Successful Hypersonic Vehicle Flight

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., April 06, 2022 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — An advanced Aerojet Rocketdyne scramjet engine powered the successful flight test of the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC), in a joint effort with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Lockheed Martin.

The goal of the DARPA / Lockheed Martin HAWC program is to develop and demonstrate critical technologies to enable an effective and affordable air-launched hypersonic cruise missile system.

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Dark Fission Launches to Bring Nuclear Thermal Rockets to Market

Promises revolutionary gains in performance, leveraging sixty years of evolving technologies

BERKELEY, Calif., March 22, 2022 — Dark Fission Space Systems, an early-stage space start-up, aims to accelerate the expansion of the space economy beyond Low Earth Orbit through the development and deployment of the first commercially available nuclear thermal rocket (NTR) engine. Led by Dr. Fred Kennedy, the Dark Fission team will combine years of NTR design evolution with modern advances in computing, manufacturing, and materials to produce a safe and reliable in-space propulsion capability with performance characteristics exceeding anything available today.

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Phase Four Awarded Novel Thruster Prototype Development Contract by DARPA

A recent successful firing of the Phase Four RF Thruster using sublimated iodine as propellant. (Credit: Phase Four)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Feb. 16, 2022 (Phase Four PR) — Phase Four, the creator of the radio-frequency thruster (RF Thruster) for satellite propulsion, announced today that it finalized a contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to adapt the RF Thruster to operate on novel, low cost propellants. The effort includes the development of a prototype engine and vacuum chamber testing. The results of the prototyping effort will demonstrate the proof of concept of a novel plasma propulsion system for various mission applications.

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Tesat-Spacecom to Establish U.S. Manufacturing Facility

BACKNANG, Germany (TESAT PR) — With more than 500,000 hours of operation and 10 Optical Communication Terminals (OCTs) in space, TESAT is the only provider worldwide for in-orbit-verified OCTs. As the market leader for space communication equipment, TESAT is setting-up manufacturing operations in the U.S. to meet the growing demand for OCTs from the U.S. Government and the commercial space industry. TESAT is currently providing OCTs for four different U.S. spacecraft primes in support of the Space Development Agency’s (SDA) Transport Layer and Tracking Layer and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Blackjack program.

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Mynaric Selected for DARPA Program to Lay out Future Optical Communications Terminal

Program aims to create constellation-agnostic optical communications terminal to interlink commercial and government satellite constellations

LOS ANGELES, December 20, 2021 (Mynaric PR) — Mynaric has been selected to work on the architectural design of a next-generation optical communications terminal as part of the phase  0 of the Space Based Adaptive Communications Node (Space-BACN) program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA’s Space-BACN program envisions an optical communications terminal that could be reconfigured to work with most of today’s optical intersatellite link standards allowing seamless communication among government and private-sector proprietary satellites. The selection for the phase 0 of the program is yet another win for Mynaric in the US government market that represents a driving force for the deployment of space-based, laser communication capabilities. 

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Biomanufacturing: Coming Soon to a Galaxy Near You?

DARPA’s B-SURE program aims to develop fundamental understanding of microbial capabilities for bioproduction in space.

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — The DoD has a role in orbital and lunar missions as defined by the US Space Force (USSF) Space Capstone Publication1. In this document, USSF notes the “inherent value of the space domain and the tremendous influence space has on U.S. prosperity and security.” There is a critical DoD need for the continued development and future expansion of orbital manufacturing to enable and ensure supply chain resiliency, sustained technological superiority, and asset security and repair for current and future operations. To meet this unique challenge, DARPA announced today that it was taking an initial step to explore and de-risk manufacturing capabilities that leverage biological processes in resource limited environments with its Biomanufacturing: Survival, Utility, and Reliability beyond Earth (B-SURE) program.

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NASA Robots Compete in DARPA’s Subterranean Challenge Final

Team CoSTAR, led by NASA’s JPL, will use autonomous robots with diverse methods of movement to compete in the complex underground environments of the SubT Challenge Final. One of the robots, NeBula-Spot, walks on four legs to explore hard-to-access locations. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Led by NASA JPL, Team CoSTAR will participate in the SubT final this week to demonstrate multi-robot autonomy in a series of tests in extreme environments.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Eight teams featuring dozens of robots from more than 30 institutions, including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, will converge in a former Kentucky limestone mine from Sept. 21 to 24 to participate in a series of complex underground scenarios. The goal: to demonstrate cutting-edge robotic autonomy capabilities and compete for the chance to win $2 million.

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Northrop Grumman’s LEO Satellite Payload for DARPA Revolutionizes Positioning, Navigation and Timing

Northrop Grumman’s advanced, software-enabled positioning, navigation and timing payload has been developed to keep forces on target in difficult environments against advanced threats – even if the availability of existing satellite navigation systems are degraded or denied. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

LINTHICUM, Md. and WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. – Sept. 16, 2021 – The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Blackjack program has awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) a contract for Phase 2 development of an advanced, software-defined positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) payload, with options to build units destined for space flight.

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Air Force Tasks Rhea Space Activity to Build Rapid-Response Lunar Communications Spacecraft

Rhea Scorpius Propulsive Burn (Credit: Rhea Space Activity)

RSA Investigates a Novel High-Thrust, High-Efficiency Propulsion System

WASHINGTON, July 19, 2021 (Rhea Space Activity PR) — As U.S. operations in space steadily move further away from Earth orbit, the rapidly growing ‘New Space’ company Rhea Space Activity (RSA) is pleased to announce that it has been selected by the United States Air Force (USAF) for a Phase I, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) 2021 Space Force Pitch Day award to investigate a bi-modal, solar-thermal propulsion system that would provide rapid repositioning capabilities for a future United State Space Force (USSF) deep space communications spacecraft.

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Blackjack Program Successfully Deploys Two Mandrake 2 Satellites

Mandrake 2 satellites (Credit: DARPA)

Achievement is key step toward realization of global high-speed space network

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — DARPA successfully deployed two satellites on June 30 as part of the SpaceX Transporter 2 launch. Both Mandrake 2 spacecraft, Able and Baker, are functioning well and progressing through checkout and commissioning. Conceived as an early risk-reduction flight for DARPA’s Blackjack  program, the Mandrake 2 mission will prove out advanced laser communications technologies for a broad government stakeholder team that includes DARPA, Space Development Agency (SDA), Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV), and Office of the Secretary of Defense’s (OSD) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) office.

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