Telesat Gets Another DARPA Contract for the Lightspeed Constellation

FILE PHOTO - Telesat Contracts MDA as Prime Satellite Manufacturer for the Telesat Lightspeed constellation. Image credit: Telesat.

Following a successful Phase 1 contract, Telesat Government Solutions, the wholly owned subsidiary of Telesat, was awarded a Phase 2 contract by DARPA for its Lightspeed Constellation.

The new Phase 2 contract is for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Space-Based Adaptive Communications Node (Space-BACN) program.

According to Telesat, the “The goal of Space-BACN is to create a reconfigurable, multi-protocol intersatellite optical communications terminal that is low in size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C), easy to integrate, and able to connect heterogeneous constellations that operate on different optical intersatellite link (OISL) specifications that otherwise would not be able to communicate. More simply, the goal is to eliminate stovepipes and ‘connect space,’ which will in turn help enable the Department of Defense (DoD) joint all-domain command and control initiative.”

Telesat added that the “new award is a follow-on to the Phase 1 contract awarded to Telesat Government Solutions in August 2022 for work on Space-BACN Technical Area 3. Phase 2 includes a 20-month period of performance to continue evolving the schema for cross-constellation communications developed in Phase 1, to function in more challenging and dynamic scenarios. Phase 2 will emphasize scalability and increasing the nodes for connectivity while enhancing the schema’s capabilities and efficiency.”

Telesat has been working for over five years with DARPA on OISL technology demonstrations and this contract adds to that series of contracts. What the value of a full contract from an operational Lightspeed Constellation is not known, however this contract flows from the DARPA Blackjack. And while that program has downsized to much a smaller program, the goals remain and could still prove to be an important source of revenue for Telesat.

Philip Harlow, President of Telesat Government Solutions, said “We are enthusiastic in advancing the important work with Space-BACN that began in Phase 1. Given the rapid innovation and growth of commercial satellite constellations, it is critical for the DoD to achieve the broad space connectivity needed across multiple domains as space-based threats increase. This Phase 2 program will make important contributions toward facilitating seamless space relay data flows between government owned systems and secure, advanced commercial networks such as Telesat Lightspeed.”

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