BAE Systems lands $7M DARPA contract to develop autonomous space-based surveillance technology

BAE Systems’ research and development wing, Fast Labs, has landed a $7 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for its autonomous space-based target custody program, called Oversight.

The traditional approach to space intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) can often be compartmentalized and labor-intensive, and it struggles to dynamically adapt quickly enough to leverage new space systems. To confront this challenge, DARPA, alongside the U.S. Space Force and the Space Development Agency, are working on developing satellite constellations to boost the tactical relevance of U.S. space systems.

Low earth orbit satellite constellations are significantly expanding the ISR capabilities on orbit. The DARPA Oversight program aims to develop an autonomous system that maintains continuous “custody” of a multitude of assets across these new, diversified constellations. As part of the program’s terms, this technology will be deployed to both tactical-edge satellites and ground stations.

“Near-peer adversary capabilities are advancing at a rapid pace, driving a need for additional long-range tracking at increased scale and timeliness,” commented Dr. John Grimes, director of Small Satellites at BAE Systems’ FAST Labs. “To meet this requirement, our team comprises technical expertise in autonomy, space processing, ISR systems, tactical-edge software development, system integration and architectures, and mission focus.”

The Oversight program is part of BAE Systems’ autonomous technologies portfolio. The work under the program will also involve collaborations with subcontractors OmniTeq and AIMdyn.

[Image courtesy: BAE Systems]

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