Airbus to Develop Small Constellation Satellite Bus for DARPA’s Blackjack Program

Airbus Defense and Space has received a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a satellite bus in support of the Blackjack program.

DARPA’s Blackjack program is 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. The company is committed to growing manufacturing capability in the US and the government customers can leverage this commercial capability to develop low-earth orbit constellations to complement large existing systems. This contract positions Airbus Defense and Space Inc of Herndon, Va., and its strategic joint venture partner, OneWeb Satellites, of Exploration Park, Fl., as the ideal service providers for Blackjack.

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. OneWeb Satellites is pioneering new value propositions in space. They are leading the design and manufacturing of ultra-high performing satellites at high-volumes.

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’ continued and long-standing commitment to growth in U.S. manufacturing, job creation and investment.