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Telesat Books Potential $176M DARPA Contract for Blackjack Phase 2 Satellite Demo

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded Telesat’s U.S. subsidiary a potential $175.6M contract to develop and demonstrate its spacecraft buses in low-Earth orbit as part of the agency’s Blackjack program.

Telesat U.S. Services said Wednesday the contract has a base value of $18.3M and covers the delivery of two satellites throughout a one-year period to support Phase 2 risk-reduction testing of the spacecraft's Optical Inter-Satellite Links in LEO.

The OISL satellites serve as part of Blackjack Phase 2/3 Track B suite of technologies and are meant to enable interoperability with government payloads and various hardware.

Telesat’s proposed LEO constellation is envisioned to have OISL-enabled spacecraft buses, a mesh network, onboard processing and an architecture that can support global spectrum allocations.

Don Brown, general manager at Telesat U.S. Services, said Phase 2 of the Blackjack effort will showcase the capacity of LEO networks to support a hybrid architecture that will provide interoperable connectivity between commercial and government satellites.

The recent award builds on Telesat’s work under a contract issued in 2018 to perform system engineering for the Blackjack effort’s first phase.

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