June 23, 2021
By Kimberly Underwood
Space X’s Falcon 9 first stage rocket returns to Earth on June 21, landing on the Just Read the Instructions droneship after launch of the military’s GPS III-5. Space X is preparing for a June 25 launch of key satellite and experimental equipment for the Space Development Agency, as part of a greater Transporter 2 mission set. Credit: SpaceX

The Space Development Agency is progressing in its promise to quickly build and operate advanced space systems that address urgent communication and mission needs for the military. The agency, known as SDA, has a plan as part of its Tranche 0 effort to provide proliferated low-earth-orbit constellation of satellites and sensors that will connect to the military’s tactical legacy datalinks and weapons systems to deter against advanced threats. As part of this effort, SDA is ready on June 25 to launch via Space X's Falcon 9 rocket three optical communication-based experiments across multiple satellites.

August 1, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off, carrying the company’s StarLink low-earth-orbit networking satellites. Flooding near-earth space with hundreds of satellites is the future of orbital activities as satellite construction expenses and launch costs continue to come down.  SpaceX

The next era of satellite communications is upon us in the form of low-earth-orbit constellations aiming to revolutionize personal connectivity, according to satellite experts. These new satellite swarms are being driven by technology innovations simultaneously with the growth of less-expensive launch services. The result will be an explosion in the number and type of orbiters serving their earthbound hosts while raising the bar for support technologies on the ground.

June 12, 2020

Raytheon Co., El Segundo, California, has been awarded a $37,442,009 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Blackjack program, Phase 2. This contract provides for the research, development, and demonstration of an Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) payload for Blackjack. Raytheon will complete design, fabricate, test, and deliver in quantity space-flight ready OPIR payloads capable of integrating with multiple Blackjack buses and Pit Boss subsystem supporting an on-orbit constellation level demonstration. Work will be performed in El Segundo, California, with an estimated completion date of April 2023.

April 20, 2020
By Kimberly Underwood
Gen. John "Jay" Raymond, USAF, chief, Space Operations, U.S. Space Force, testifies in March before the House Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C. In a virtual town hall meeting on April 16, the general explained that the service will rely on the commercial satellite industry more than the military has in the past.    Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne Clark

The four-month-old U.S. Space Force is setting its priorities for the future, and part of that is a plan to leverage key partnerships with allies, the intelligence community and the commercial space industry. And while partnerships with the commercial space industry in regard to launch services have been quite visible, the Space Force is set to work more frequently with the producers of small communications satellite systems, said Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, USAF, chief of operations, U.S. Space Force.

November 25, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher, USA, director, Network-Cross Functional Team, speaking at AFCEA International’s Alamo Chapter ACE 2019 event in San Antonio, Texas on November 20, tells the industry that the service is pursuing its next round of advanced tactical technologies from the industry.

The Army is two years into its aggressive front to modernize and shift to be a more agile, lethal force, moving away from counterinsurgency warfare. One of the service’s major priorities as part of that modernization effort is to create an integrated tactical network that can support soldiers fighting anywhere at anytime against near-peer adversaries in a contested environment, explained Maj. Gen.

October 11, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
DARPA’s Blackjack program wilDARPA’s Blackjack program will leverage commercial low Earth orbit solutions, says Paul “Rusty” Thomas, Blackjack program manager. Concept graphic courtesy of DARPAl leverage commercial low Earth orbit solutions, says Paul “Rusty” Thomas, Blackjack program manager. Credit: Concept graphic courtesy of DARPA

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is seeing initial success from its Blackjack program, according to Paul “Rusty” Thomas, program manager. The research agency is developing a subset of a constellation, 20 low Earth orbit (LEO) globe-to-globe satellites, to demonstrate a new way of building out space systems.

“We are looking at how we might do space architecture differently,” said Thomas. “We want to limit the integration time, so we can actually get to the point where a payload might not even know what bus it is going to go on, and you can actually think of the payload as the mission.”

March 25, 2011
By Beverly Schaeffer

With limited land mass, the country of Israel must look to space to help gird its defensive capabilities. The nation's interest in military space is obvious-to optimize battlefield and security effectiveness using space-based assets. The head of the Israeli Air Force Space Branch is Lt. Col. Oren Barda, IAF. He notes why Israel considers space to be critical to international security:

First, we must stand guard for any possible threats. Space enables long-range surveillance, space enables working in neutral territory, and space is a technology and economic booster to industry.