Airbus wins DARPA contract to develop small constellation satellite bus for Blackjack program
HERNDON, Va., - Airbus Defense and Space Inc. has been awarded a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a satellite bus in support of the Blackjack program.
DARPA describes the Blackjack program as an architecture demonstration intending to show the military utility of global low-earth orbit constellations and mesh networks of lower size, weight and cost. DARPA wants to buy commercial satellite buses and pair them with military sensors and payloads. The bus drives each satellite by generating power, controlling attitude, providing propulsion, transmitting spacecraft telemetry, and providing general payload accommodation including mounting locations for the military sensors.
“Airbus has previously co-invested hundreds of millions of dollars in high-rate manufacturing technology and supply chain logistics to build large constellations of small satellites,” said Tim Deaver, Director of US Space Programs at Airbus Defense and Space, Inc.
High production rates and design-to-cost management techniques enable OneWeb Satellites to offer low cost constellation solutions for the U.S. government and current customers. Constellations of inexpensive satellites permit wide scale disaggregated architectures enhancing survivability across many different mission areas.
“We have created a game changer with our overall design, supply chain and production system,” said Tony Gingiss, CEO, OneWeb Satellites. “Our team is transforming the space industry and we are in the midst of demonstrating we can deliver on our promises.”
OneWeb Satellites brings to bear capabilities which dramatically lower the cost and shorten acquisition timelines for customers thanks to a modular design and agile serial production of satellites.
The OneWeb Satellites satellite manufacturing facility in Florida is the latest step in Airbus’ commitment to growth in U.S. manufacturing.
This facility follows the opening of Airbus' U.S. Manufacturing Facility for A320 aircraft in Mobile, Alabama, from which they delivered their first aircraft in 2016. An A220 assembly line on the same site in Alabama will break ground in January of 2019.
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