SPACE LAUNCH RIDESHARING & DARPA
|Source: DARPA Blackjack Satellite Program|
Small Sats, Low Cost, Low Earth Orbit
Ridesharing is a growing megatrend in Space. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will fly on a ridesharing mission, early in 2021, carrying a Loft Orbiting satellite with a DARPA Blackjack Pit Boss mission system inside for a space demonstration. Loft buys space buses (satellites) and rents space. The US Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will be flying onboard the SpaceX rocket with many other customer payloads. DARPA's Blackjack programs aims to deploy low cost, small, low earth orbit satellites into operation for the US Military.
DARPA's testing of Blackjack will commence in early 2021. The experiment is called Sagittarius A. It's designed to demonstrate any risks or problems before the main Blackjack satellites go into production and launch in late 2021.
Pit Boss is the software mission management system that will enable the satellites to autonomously acquire, process and provide information to the system users. The Sagittarius A demonstration will test the flight computer and an optical imaging sensor that searches for targets in the ocean. The data goes into the satellite's flight computer, AI processes it and then redirects the satellite to start searching for more targets. This real, dry run in space is expected to usher in the deployment of Blackjack in 2022. It will also contribute to increased "Ridesharing" to space.