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Airbus wins DARPA contract for satellite bus
OneWeb satellite. © WorldVu-LLC-2017

Airbus wins DARPA contract for satellite bus

Airbus Defense and Space Inc. has been awarded a contract from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop a satellite bus in support of the Blackjack programme.

Airbus Defense and Space Inc. has been awarded a contract from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a satellite bus in support of the Blackjack programme.

DARPA describes the Blackjack programme 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. The agency 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 Defence and Space is a partner with OneWeb in the OneWeb Satellites joint venture, which plans to mass-produce hundreds of small satellites at reduced cost in a new manufacturing facility in Florida. An initial batch of satellites has been produced at the Airbus facility in Toulouse. Production in Florida is due to get under way this year.

Airbus is one of a number of companies to have received Blackjack-related contracts to date. Others include Colorado-based Blue Canyon and Canadian firm Telesat.

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