Despite the US military’s investment in a ‘very exquisite’ set of satellites for the past decades, there is a need to change to a distinct space architecture. According to Steve Butow, space portfolio of the Defense Innovation Unit director, the new architecture will take advantage of the innovations. It will enable the Pentagon to ramp up its activities in space.

“If we’re going to do all the great things that we want to do in space in the 21st century, we have to migrate to a new model, where the government can develop modular systems using commoditized satellite buses and components,” said Butow.

The US military Department of Defense (DoD) has scaled up its space and aerospace since the new decade dawned. In 2015, DoD created the Defense Innovation Unit. The unit was mandated to develop innovative ways to integrate commercial technology with military hardware to improve its security, defense, and intelligence. “The 20th-century model doesn’t exist anymore. In space, we need a logistics infrastructure that is not exclusive to the military, to civil space or commercial space but a logistics architecture,” added Butow. Designing new space architecture would permit the government to purchase new satellites and continuously
upgrade them with sophisticated sensors as well as processors utilizing the commercial space tug services.

During the 2021 Smallsat Symposium, Butow, among other experts, pointed out that the space industry’s critical challenge is the lack of agreement on standard interfaces for the space hardware. If this challenge is conquered, government agencies and commercial space companies could purchase from same marketplace. According to Lockheed Martin’s Eric Brown, the aerospace and arms manufacturer is teaming up with commercial players in the space sector to discuss how to scale up their capacity.

 “We are working with commercial space businesses and startups to discuss how we might be able to ramp those kinds of great innovative, new capabilities into the major missions,” said Brown, military space mission strategy senior director at Lockheed Martin. Lockheed is a well-known aerospace company dealing with the design and development of security, defense, and high-tech warfare technology. Lockheed has been contracted multiple times by the DoD for most of its advanced technology, such as the Global Positioning System (GPS) that maps location.

Other projects developed by Lockheed Martin include the missile-warning and communications satellites, the C-130 Hercules military transport, the F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole fighter, and the Orion command module. The Space Development Agency (SDA) under the DoD is developing new systems alongside commercial companies. The US Air Force has researched the different ways the legacy satellites can be connected to these systems to allow data sharing across different constellations.

The SDA is developing the Transport Layer, a mesh network in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which will consist of about ten small satellites. The network would help warfighters to stay ahead of emerging threats. Lockheed Martin was awarded this project in September 2020. “Our ability to wage war in the future, to engage our adversaries, is going to come from being able to capitalize on everything,” said Brown.

By Adam

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *