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Telesat Purchases Mynaric Inter-Satellite Link Terminals for DARPA Blackjack Program

By | October 22, 2020

The Mynaric CONDOR flight terminal provides backbone inter-satellite connectivity in LEO. Photo: Mynaric

Telesat has selected German company Mynaric to supply optical inter-satellite link (OISL) terminals for Telesat’s work on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Blackjack Track B program. Last week, DARPA awarded Telesat a further contract worth $18.3 million to develop and test it’s Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation as part of the Blackjack program, which looks to leverage commercial LEO technology for a global high-speed network for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). In this phase, Telesat will develop and demonstrate in-orbit testing for OISL capability. 

Mynaric plans to supply multiple units of its flagship CONDOR optical inter-satellite link terminals. The terminals are scheduled to be delivered in mid-2021 to DARPA’s Blackjack System Integrator with satellites scheduled to launch in the latter part of 2021. The launch will be the first ride to space for the CONDOR terminals.

As part of the deal, Mynaric will also establish what it calls the industry’s first laser communication interoperability lab at its Los Angeles facility. The lab will have a link testbed to test inter-vendor operability. Mynaric said this facility will help establish a common laser communication standard within the Blackjack program and potentially beyond.

“Interoperability allows not just DARPA but all of our customers to de-risk their supply chains and we expect it to work as a catalyst accelerating the large-volume deployment of laser communication systems,” commented Mynaric CEO Bulent Altan.