The U.S. Defense Administration Program Administration (DARPA) awarded Lockheed Martin $27.3 million today to work on its Blackjack satellite project.

DARPA a year ago selected the company as the satellite integrator for Blackjack, a project to demonstrate a network of small satellites in low-earth-orbit (LEO) for military communications, missile warning and navigation.

The agency ordered 10 buses so far from Blue Canyon Technologies. Raytheon Technologies is providing missile warning infrared sensors. The agency last month awarded SEAKR Engineering a $60.4 million contract to develop the Pit Boss data processing system for satellites to operate autonomously. SEAKR’s team included Microsoft, Applied Technology Associates, Advanced Solutions Inc, Kythera Space Solutions and NKryptPhase.

Pit Boss will be able to take data collected by the satellites, process it on orbit and then disseminate that information to users or platforms on Earth without human input. It will be able to facilitate a number of functions, including augmenting position, navigation and timing capabilities, space-to-surface communications, and deliver persistent targeting and tracking data.

Today’s contract adds Phase 2 tasks to the previously awarded procurement contract for the Blackjack satellite integration program. During the 15-month Phase 2 baseline program, the Lockheed Martin team will advance its satellite integration approach through critical design review, performing assembly, test, and integration activities on multiple types of commoditized buses, the Blackjack Pit Boss, and various payloads. Lockheed Martin further will provide for the integration of the various Blackjack components into a launch vehicle for on-orbit spacecraft testing.

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