DARPA Seeks to Fly Experimental Satellite on Indian PSLV Booster

PSLV C38 mission launches (Credit: ISRO)

Frustrated over delays with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster, DARPA is considering launching an innovative experimental satellite on India’s PSLV rocket, SpaceNews reports.

Jeremy Palmer, program manager for DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, told attendees at the Milsatcom USA conference that officials are hoping to launch the eXperiment for Cellular Integration Technology (eXCITe) satellite during the second half of fiscal year 2018, i.e., from April to September 2018.

The eXCITe spacecraft consists of 14 small satlets aggregated together into a single payload weighing 155 kg. The satlets, which are supplied by NovaWurks, have autonomous capabilities and are capable of operating individually or being aggregated into larger, more capable satellites.

eXCITe was originally scheduled to fly as a secondary payload aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9. It would have been deployed from a Spaceflight-supplied Sherpa payload dispenser, which aggregates smaller secondary payloads.

However, repeated slips in SpaceX’s launch schedule required Spaceflight to seek alternative rides to space for payloads that would have been deployed by the Sherpa dispenser.

DARPA would need a U.S. government waiver to fly eXCITe on the PSLV. The government has been granting an increasing number of waivers to American satellite manufacturers who say there is a shortage of domestic launch opportunities.

U.S. launch companies have pushed back agains the waivers, saying India’s PSLV and GSLV launchers are subsidized by the nation’s space agency, ISRO. A number of U.S. companies are developing launch vehicles specifically aimed at the small satellite market, but none has yet made a succesful flight to orbit.



NovaWurks’ HISats Set to Fly on DARPA Phoenix eXCITe Spacecraft

novawurks_logoSecond Mission for HISats Is Designed to Explore Experimentation of Cellular Integration Technology

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif., NovaWurks — NovaWurks™ Inc., a provider of high-technology space products and services, announced today that the company’s flagship technology, the Hyper-Integrated Satlet (HISat™), is scheduled for launch into space through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s Phoenix program. As part of Phoenix’s goal to develop new satellite architectures, DARPA plans to launch its eXperiment for Cellular Integration Technology (eXCITe) spacecraft to validate the concept of an aggregated satlet system cluster in low Earth orbit (LEO).