Scientific Systems Company, Inc. (SSCI) has been awarded a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) prime contract to begin development of the Pit Boss mission system for the Blackjack satellite constellation.
The DARPA Blackjack program aims to demonstrate the capabilities of a proliferated low Earth orbit (P-LEO) system through a variety of on-orbit experiments using 20 low-cost small satellites, each carrying payloads relevant to select military missions. Pit Boss is the computing and encryption hardware and modular software element of Blackjack that is envisioned to enable autonomous on-orbit mission tasking, sensor collection, on-board processing and exploitation, and dissemination via a worldwide digital network, all at mission speed.
The Pit Boss ground segment will be designed to be relatively simple compared to those in use today. It should provide the powerful ability of large numbers of military users – on the ground, in the air, or at sea – to request specific payload data services from the constellation with the ease of a typical internet commercial sales transaction. Pit Boss further should provide an open and cyber-resilient platform architecture that allows the flexible and rapid integration of new mission payloads and autonomy software applications onto a commoditized small satellite bus of choice.
SSCI leads an expert development team that includes Oxford Systems, Emergent Space Technologies, Orbit Logic, Raytheon BBN Technologies, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, DZYNE, Kitware, Leaf Labs, Dornerworks, and Innoflight.
SSCI Vice President of Research and Development, Dr. Owen Brown, provides insight into the company’s approach to solve this challenging problem: “We are leveraging our Collaborative Mission Autonomy (CMA) software platform for Pit Boss. CMA brings to the Space Domain what our national security space users need: flexibility, resiliency, and a significant increase in both acquisition and operational responsiveness. This is the same software platform we have utilized for solving similar problems for distributed autonomy, at scale, in the Maritime and Air Domains. We look forward to demonstrating how CMA in space can radically improve how warfighters get the information they need when they need it.”
Raman Mehra, the CEO of SSCI adds, “This is a significant award in the history of SSCI. We are excited to be given the chance to create a capability that will be of great benefit to our country’s national security. I’m proud of our Pit Boss team, which represents the ecosystem of developers required to implement, sustain, and evolve space-based capabilities at a time constant required to stay ahead of our adversaries.”