It's a name only a government agency could love: the Future, Fast, Flexible, Fractionated, Free-Flying Spacecraft United by Information eXchange. Could DARPA possibly come up with a more tortured title for System F6?
Still, the name says something about the concept: using a team of small spacecraft to do the work of a single (bigger, more expensive, more vulnerable, less capable) satellite. DARPA has been talking about spacecraft clusters for years, but now the agency is planning to put some money where its mouth is. Earlier this week, DARPA gave Boeing Advanced Systems a $12-million-plus contract to demonstrate initial technologies for the concept; an on-orbit demonstration is planned for 2011.
For System F7, we hope DARPA will add a little Fun.
Like a lot of news sites, you have picked up on this when the contractor issued a statement on their involvement.
There are four contractor teams involved in this - not just Boeing.
According to DARPA, contracts are being awarded to:
• The Boeing Co., Huntington Beach, Calif., teamed with L3 Communications,
Millennium Space Systems, Octant Technologies, and Science Applications
International Corp. ($12,891,049);
• Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Palo Alto, Calif., teamed with Aurora Flight
Sciences, Colbaugh & Heinsheimer Consulting, Vanderbilt University, and Lockheed
Martin Integrated and Global Systems ($5,762,781);
• Northrop Grumman Space & Mission Systems Corp., Redondo Beach, Calif., teamed
with Alliant Tech Systems Inc., Aurora Flight Sciences, Juniper Networks, L3
Communications, BAE Systems, Cornell University, Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Southern California, and
University of Virginia ($6,159,866); and
• Orbital Sciences Corp., Dulles, Va., teamed with IBM, Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Georgia Institute of Technology, SpaceDev, and Aurora Flight Sciences
Modular means redundant. That translates into security and it's attendent peace of mind. The destruction by another nation of a critical satallite could , and most likely would lead to war. The flexibility offerd by redundant satallites could mean the diference between war and a strong diplomatic protest.
Gotta love a FreakyFast little robot in space capable of Fixing other sattelites, and Flying circles around Fat missles, or other harmful, Focused intent apparatus used to try to track or intercept them. Is this the age For Fight or Flight logic systems? (hah!-got you beat 8-6)