It’s part of DARPA’s Blackjack programme. Specifically, a contract for “Phase 2 development” of an advanced, software-defined positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) payload. The contract includes options to build units destined for space flight.
Northrop Grumman said its Future PNT Systems Operating Unit – based in Woodland Hills, California – is supporting the DARPA Tactical Technology Office’s goal of achieving “capable, resilient and affordable national security space capabilities from low Earth orbit”.
The payload includes Northrop Grumman’s Software Enabled Reconfigurable Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Embedded Architecture for Navigation and Timing (SERGEANT) capability.
“Northrop Grumman’s software-defined positioning, navigation and timing technology will offer military users an agile new signal from LEO that is not dependent on existing satellite navigation systems,” said Dr. Nicholas Paraskevopoulos, CTO and sector vp (emerging capabilities development) at Northrop Grumman.
“Warfighters depend on assured PNT for traditional missions like force projection and joint operations, but also for emerging autonomous and distributed missions.”
The Phase 2 development work is valued at $13.3 million, says the company, if all options are exercised through emulation, design and build.
Blackjack aims to integrate commercial satellite technologies into a constellation of “affordable, small, secure, and resilient military satellites”. The idea is to replace existing costly and monolithic systems – in geosynchronous orbit – that are vulnerable targets and would take years to replace if degraded or destroyed.
It aims to develop a global high-speed network in low Earth orbit (LEO) that provides the US Department of Defense with highly connected and resilient coverage (basically delivering, for military needs, a persistent overhead access to any point on the globe).
National Security Space (NSS) assets, critical to U.S. warfighting capabilities, traditionally reside in geosynchronous orbit to deliver persistent overhead access to any point on the globe. In the increasingly contested space environment, these exquisite, costly, and monolithic systems have become vulnerable targets that would take years to replace if degraded or destroyed. DARPA’s Blackjack program aims to develop and demonstrate the critical elements for a global high-speed network in low Earth orbit (LEO) that provides the Department of Defense with highly connected, resilient, and persistent coverage.
Image: Northrop Grumman
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