The proliferation of low earth orbit satellite constellations in recent years greatly enhances the expansion of on-orbit intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.
BAE Systems FAST Labs R&D unit has secured a $7m contract from the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the Oversight autonomous satellite monitoring program.
DARPA is initiating the Oversight program, aiming to create an autonomous system that can monitor many assets across various satellite constellations. Traditional space ISR collection techniques often exist in silos, require substantial staffing, and struggle to adapt to emergent space technologies swiftly.
The burgeoning low earth orbit satellite constellations are considerably amplifying the expansion of on-orbit ISR capabilities. DARPA’s novel Oversight program aims to persistently monitor specific sites across diverse satellite constellations using an autonomous system, which BAE is set to develop.
The project will be a cooperative effort involving DARPA, the US Space Force, and the Space Development Agency. The intention is to increase the strategic importance of US space systems by developing technology that can be integrated into both tactical-edge satellites and ground stations.
According to Dr. John Grimes, director of Small Satellites at BAE Systems’ FAST Labs, the urgent need for increased long-range monitoring, with faster speed and broader scope, is driven by the rapid advancement of near-peer adversary capabilities. Grimes stated that their team combines technical expertise in autonomy, space processing, ISR systems, tactical-edge software development, system integration, architectures, and mission focus to meet these growing demands.