A demonstration of interoperability between the DARPA’s Blackjack and the PredaSAR satellites is planned

PredaSAR, a radar imaging company, has won a $2 million deal by the US Space Force to demonstrate interoperability between its satellites as well as the Blackjack constellation of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. PredaSAR will put the laser communications terminal on any of its satellites and try to relay data to Blackjack constellation under the terms of the deal, which was announced last week by Space Force’s Space Systems Command.

Blackjack satellites will be deployed into low-Earth orbit for experiments in communications, navigation, as well as missile detection. Blackjack and PredaSAR have yet to launch any satellites. In 2022, DARPA wants to launch up to 12 satellites. PredaSAR, which was created in 2019, plans to launch in the 4th quarter of 2022. The company wants to sell imagery captured by synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensors.

Blackjack is a DARPA venture that aims to show how small satellites in the low Earth orbit can offer communications, missile warning, as well as PNT for the military. The contract was awarded to Northrop Grumman on April 28. The company will provide two payloads that will broadcast a novel signal which is not reliant on the GPS.

“Northrop Grumman’s software-specified PNT technology will provide military users with an agile fresh signal from the low Earth orbit that is not reliant on established satellite navigation systems,” said Nicholas Paraskevopoulos, who is the company’s chief technology officer as well as sector vice president in charge of the emerging capabilities growth, in a statement on May 6.

The Space Systems Command’s CASINO program includes the interoperability demonstration (short for the commercially augmented space inter-networked activities). The Blackjack initiative, which conducts experiments and prototypes technologies, is supported by CASINO.

On one of its satellites, PredaSAR is going to deploy an optical communications terminal produced by SA Photonics and attempt to relay data to a Blackjack satellite. Utilizing a Mynaric optical terminal, the Space Development Agency is going to execute a comparable inter-satellite demo with radar imaging company Capella Space.

The PredaSAR demonstration, according to Lt. Col. Tim Trimailo, who works as CASINO program manager is comparable to SDA’s effort with Capella Space but uses a distinct optical crosslink terminal. In a statement, he said, “We are in close touch with SDA to manage these demos, cooperate where possible, and exchange lessons learned as well as best practices.”

The constellations Blackjack and PredaSAR will “show the military utility of proliferating low Earth orbit satellite systems,” according to Trimailo. “Create a government-commercial blended architecture in LEO, enabling a government constellation to use data collected from private satellites,” says the long-term goal. This hybrid architecture demonstration is going to “add to the resilience, capability, as well as capacity to fulfill time-sensitive requirements of our forces around the world,” according to Marc Bell, CEO of PredaSAR’s parent firm Terran Orbital.

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