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Telesat’s LEO System to Support DARPA’s Blackjack Program

By Annamarie Nyirady | November 27, 2018
      Rendition of Telesat's Phase 1 LEO satellite in orbit. Photo: SSTL.

      Rendition of Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite in orbit. Photo: SSTL

      Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded a contract to Telesat, involving its commercial Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellations. Telesat will undertake investigations that could lead to the Department of Defense (DOD) making greater use of commercial LEO satellite constellations, such as Telesat’s LEO system, for DOD’s future space-based communications. The investigations will include evaluating the advantages of DOD using the same spacecraft buses as those Telesat will use in its LEO constellation and having these future DOD spacecraft link to Telesat’s LEO constellation via laser-based communications. The result of these investigations could lead to DOD using Telesat’s LEO system for its global broadband connectivity needs.

      The award to Telesat was made by DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO) under its Blackjack program. Blackjack is an architecture demonstration of a proliferated small satellite constellation in LEO to provide global persistence, low latency communications, and rapid technology refresh.

      Telesat will work with its sub-contractor Leidos to complete required deliverables under Telesat’s DARPA contract.