Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) announced the details of its contract award for Phases 2 and 3 of the Blackjack Program, a military space capabilities demonstration developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
By incorporating commercial sector advances in LEO, including designs used for LEO broadband internet service, the goal of the Blackjack Program is to demonstrate that a constellation of LEO satellites meets Department of Defense (DoD) performance and payload requirements, at a significantly lower cost, with shorter design cycles and with easier and more frequent technology upgrades. The Blackjack Program aims to demonstrate an economy of scale not previously available with current National Security Space (NSS) assets, which are large, costly, and would take years to replace if degraded or destroyed.
The contract has an initial award value of $14.2 million with a total potential value of $99.4 million if all options are exercised, and will utilize BCT’s high performance bus and bus components designed specifically for LEO missions. Initially BCT will complete the final design of the multi-mission bus and begin procurement for the build of the first 4 satellites. The customized X-SAT bus will include state-of-the-art electric propulsion, a robust power system, command and data handling, RF communications and dedicated payload interfaces capable of hosting several different DoD payloads. The spacecraft will be delivered on a rapid timeline to support the critical DARPA demonstration schedule, with the first spacecraft to be delivered in mid-2021.
“Blue Canyon is proud to have been a reliable partner in DARPA’s Blackjack program since the beginning phases,” said George Stafford, founder and CEO of Blue Canyon Technologies. “The Blackjack program is truly leading the way as we work to develop a common spacecraft bus, capable of hosting multiple payload types, with high speed interconnections among the satellites and the ground, and we’re honored they have selected our best-in-class spacecraft for this important demonstration.”
The design, build and testing of the Blackjack constellation will take place in BCT’s new manufacturing facility, the Crescent Satellite Constellation Factory, which brings Blue Canyon Technologies’ total manufacturing footprint to nearly 140,000 square feet across locations in Colorado and New Mexico.
Additionally, this substantial contract win coupled with the opening of the Crescent Factory, will allow Blue Canyon Technologies to hire more employees, creating new jobs in an uncertain market and adding a vast amount of expertise and talent to its various teams.
In October 2018, BCT won the $1.54 million contract for Phase 1 – Architecture and Design of the spacecraft. In 2019, Blue Canyon Technologies and DARPA completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) at BCT’s manufacturing facility, demonstrating that the design met bus level requirements for multiple high military utility payload types and national security space missions. The next phase of the program will focus on system level requirements and ground simulation of mission capability of BCT’s spacecraft technology working in concert with Blackjack’s Pit Boss on-orbit constellation autonomy system.