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DARPA Program Aims to Incentivize Data Collection From Commercial LEO Satellite Sensors

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking to establish a “data-as-a-service” marketplace to utilize commercial satellites that carry sensor technology designed to monitor the space environment within low Earth orbit.

A DARPA notice posted on SAM.gov is inviting potential offerors to submit abstracts through Feb. 2 as part of the solicitation process for its Space-domain Wide Area Tracking and Characterization program, or Space-WATCH.

The agency anticipates issuing multiple other transaction awards to provide operators an additional source of revenue that capitalizes on in-situ government and commercial satellite sensors used to detect nearby objects, identify an anomaly or an unexpected activity and transmit data to operators on the ground.

According to DARPA, the Space Surveillance Network’s ground-based sensors are currently helping Department of Defense personnel track objects and the Space-WATCH initiative seeks to address coverage limitations of the SSN sensing platform.

Phase zero of the new program will last for six months to cover an engineering study, architecture design and an industry-government collaboration aimed at determining an initial sensor data pricing model.

The first phase will last for 12 months and focus on the implementation of DaaS architecture designs. For the second phase, contractors will demonstrate their offerings through a 16-month pilot program.

DARPA expects participants in the Space-WATCH program to have operations satellites by Jan. 1, 2025.

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