Blue Canyon Technologies is producing four satellite busses for the Blackjack program under a contract awarded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency last month for $14.1 million. The deal gives DARPA the right to purchase up to 20 satellites for $99.4 million.
Blue Canyon Technologies
The contract places Blue Canyon in a position to become DARPA’s Blackjack program’s leading manufacturer of satellite buses — an ambitious effort to demonstrate the military value of a mesh network of small satellites in low Earth orbit. DARPA claimed its goal is to launch 20 satellites by 2022.
While DARPA has also signed contracts for the study with other bus companies, only Blue Canyon has a contract for development.
“Several bus service providers are also being discussed,” Blackjack system manager Rusty Thomas also told SpaceNews July 2.
He said that to reach plan targets, DARPA needed to place Blue Canyon on a contract now. A main issue is to ensure that the satellite runs the command-and – control program known as Pit Boss for Blackjack.
The deal helps the company to continue “detailed device design to ensure synchronization of Pit Boss autonomy interfaces. With the current flight machine from Blue Canyon,” Thomas said. “Awarding also enables long lead procurement of bus components to support plans for assembly, installation , training and shipping in 2021.”
DARPA wants Blackjack satellites to be modular, meaning you can add new payloads without having to rebuild the vehicle. The aim is to ramp up production and lower satellite costs as compared to conventional custom-built spacecraft acquisitions.
William Schum, program manager at the company in Boulder, Colorado, told SpaceNews that Blackjack satellites are going to be by the corporation at a new manufacturing plant in Lafayette, Colorado.
When DARPA also uses all opportunities for purchasing 20 spacecraft. Schum said, that will make Blackjack the largest deal Blue Canyon has ever received.