WASHINGTON — SpaceLink, a space communications company, said it has agreed to work with the U.S. military to help articulate the service’s plan for a tactical network that can help distribute data and imagery more quickly.
The cooperative research and development agreement with the U.S. Army Space Command and Missile Defense Technical Center, which SpaceLink announced on Monday, allows the organizations to share facilities, intellectual property and technology. expertise to “elevate the solutions for both the fighter and the industry,” the McLean, Va.-based company in a statement. There is no funding tied to the agreement.
Although the work is not tied to any specific Army program, it comes as the service develops plans for a tactical space layer that would allow it to use aerial imagery to target threats beyond the line. of sight. The Army has partnered with commercial companies and other military services to conduct experiments and prototyping efforts aimed at reducing the time it takes to collect and deliver satellite data to a weapon system.
SpaceLink is investing internal funds to develop a satellite relay system that will reside in medium Earth orbit – between 1,243 and 22,236 miles above the planet’s surface – and will use laser communications for faster and more efficient data transfer. secured. Anthony Colucci, the company’s chief strategy and commerce officer, told C4ISRNET in an interview that SpaceLink is in the “production-ready phase” and plans to launch its first constellation of four satellites by the end of 2024. .
Colucci said the company sees the deal as a sign that the US government understands the value its system will bring once in orbit. Although its constellation is not operational, SpaceLink will provide modeling and simulation tools that the military can use to better understand how the capability might fit into its architecture.
“It can take hours or even days from when someone says, ‘I need some data, I need some impact on what’s going on’, until it retrieves that data,” Colucci said. “With our system, it can take minutes or even seconds. So you can imagine the tactical importance.
After its first satellites arrive in orbit in 2024, SpaceLink plans to launch new capabilities every two years, increasing speed and processing capacity with each iteration.
Colucci said the company has discussed its plans with the Space Force, Space Development Agency and Defense Innovation Unit, providing studies and white papers to show how the system could improve turnaround times. data delivery. He said he expects more partnerships to be formalized soon, but declined to provide details.
Courtney Albon is C4ISRNET’s Space and Emerging Technologies Journalist. She previously covered the US Air Force and US Space Force for Inside Defense.