Wednesday, March 5, 2008

DARPA Contracts Northrop & Lockheed For Next-Gen Satellites

Northrop Grumman Selected For First Phase Of DARPA F6 Next-Generation Wireless Satellite Network
Northrop Grumman Corporation
Globe Newswire

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has been awarded the first phase of a four phase advanced research contract to design and build a cluster of wirelessly interconnected free flying spacecraft.

Awarded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Phase 1 of the Future, Flexible, Fast, Fractionated, Free-Flying, Spacecraft united by Information Exchange (F6) program is a 12-month study of ways to break up a typical monolithic satellite into distributed modules. In Phase 1, Northrop Grumman will develop a satellite-to-satellite wireless network, a distributed command and control system, and network protocols.

Rather than being assembled onto a monolithic bus satellite, components of the F6 are distributed onto separate spacecraft modules. By the end of the first phase, Northrop Grumman will demonstrate essential networking and communications capabilities, will present a preliminary design and will prove the business case for this strategy. An actual flight demonstration composed of multiple satellites will be developed in subsequent phases.

The functionality of a traditional satellite will be reconstituted by a cluster of wirelessly interconnected spacecraft modules that fly in approximately the same orbit while flying freely in space. In this distributed virtual satellite system, each "fractionated" module contributes a unique capability such as command and data handling, guidance and navigation, and payload functions. At the same time, virtual and distributed satellite components do not interfere with each other, do not have to be developed on the same schedule and can be replaced more cost effectively.

The System F6 concept is enabled by five technology pillars: autonomous self-forming networks, wireless communications and power, cluster operations, and distributed computing. The combination of these elements represents a next generation space satellite structural design.

Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector is leading a diverse team that will develop and integrate key technologies for the F6 program. This team is composed of Swales Aerospace, a division of Alliant Techsystems Inc.; NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory; L3Comm; BAE Systems; Payload Systems, a division of Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Cornell University.

Lockheed Martin Team Receives $5.7 Million Contract From DARPA
By Shirleen Dorman
CNN Money

A team headed by Lockheed Martin Corp.'s (LMT) Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. received a $5.7 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to compete in Phase 1 development of the System F6 space technology program.

Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Services will deliver ground systems.

Other team members include Colbaugh & Heinsheimer, Aurora Flight Sciences and Vanderbilt University.

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