The $7m contract was awarded to FAST Labs by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
FAST Labs is BAE Systems’ advanced technology research and development group.
The DARPA, the US Space Force, and the Space Development Agency are working together to develop a constellation of satellites to enhance the tactical effectiveness of US space systems.
The initiative is part of the DARPA Oversight programme.
It aims to address the challenges associated with conventional methods of space intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) collection such as isolated operations, labour-intensive processes, and limited ability to adapt quickly to leverage new space systems.
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BAE Systems explained that the use of proliferated low earth orbit satellite constellations expands the capabilities for on-orbit ISR.
The programme seeks to develop an autonomous system that manages a large number of assets distributed across diverse constellations, ensuring continuous “custody” of these assets.
As per the programme’s objectives, this technology will be deployed to both tactical-edge satellites and ground stations.
BAE Systems’ FAST Labs director of small satellites John Grimes said: “Rapidly advancing near-peer adversary capabilities are driving a need for additional long-range tracking at increased scale and timeliness.
“To meet this requirement, our team includes technical expertise in autonomy, space processing, ISR systems, tactical-edge software development, system integration and architectures, and mission focus.”
Subcontractors OmniTeq and AIMdyn will also work on the programme.
Last month, the defence technology company allied with software giant Microsoft to develop cloud systems.