Raytheon, Blue Canyon Achieve Milestone in DARPA’s Blackjack Satellite Program

Raytheon and space mission systems developer Blue Canyon Technologies have completed “critical milestone activities” supporting the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Blackjack program.

Blackjack aims to deploy a defense network into low-Earth orbit using a constellation of four satellites to boost US military missions on the ground.

Once operational, these capabilities will take over the roles of larger satellites traditionally stationed in geosynchronous orbit and sustain “overhead access” of information for warfighters in any international location.

“The Blackjack program is a perfect example of how RTX and Blue Canyon Technologies are working to solve the hardest problems in aerospace and defense,” Blue Canyon Technologies’ Chris Winslett stated.

Artist's rendering of Blackjack satellite constellation.
Artist’s rendering of Blackjack satellite constellation. Photo: DARPA

Blackjack Program

The Blackjack initiative leverages satellites designed for broadband internet services as well as low-cost interchangeable payloads with rapid design requirements and chronic updates.

DARPA wrote that the spacecraft, cargo, and launch activities related to each resulting Blackjack satellite are expected to cost under $6 million.

“In the increasingly contested space environment… costly, and monolithic systems have become vulnerable targets that would take years to replace if degraded or destroyed,” the agency wrote.

“DARPA’s Blackjack program aims to develop and demonstrate the critical elements for a global high-speed network in low-Earth orbit that provides the Department of Defense with highly connected, resilient, and persistent coverage.”

In 2020, DARPA and the US Space Force and Space Development Agency began testing flights to low-Earth orbit as part of the program.

These demonstrations were facilitated through a “rideshare” setup, launching the prototypes with other space-based missions.

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