DARPA Sees Clear Path to Faster Cheaper Space Technology

Space.com | 3/5/2018 | Staff
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WASHINGTON — The commercial space industry can mass produce satellites that are small but quite sophisticated for the price. And launch vehicles are getting better and cheaper by the day.

So it only makes sense for the U.S. military to ride that wave, said Steven Walker, the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Walker - Pentagon - Intelligence - Community - Assessments

Walker agrees with recent Pentagon and intelligence community assessments that outer space has become more militarized and U.S. satellites are vulnerable. This is a reality that DARPA predicted long before the Pentagon officially recognized space as a potential battlefront."Space is going to be one of my priorities," Walker said Thursday at a defense writers breakfast meeting.

"DARPA four or five years ago moved that discussion further along and we brought it to the attention of senior leadership all the way to the White House," Walker said. It was clear that "space was changing, that things were getting very contested and that the U.S. needed some programs to counter it."

Technologies - Space - Warfare - DARPA - Need

Many of the technologies being developed for space warfare are classified. But DARPA has been vocal about the need to get the Pentagon to become less dependent on large, complex satellites in geostationary Earth orbit. Walker said it's time for DoD to shift future spending to constellations in low earth orbit made up of dozens or hundreds of small satellites.

Both DoD and the commercial sector have "very exquisite satellites," he said. They are high-performance systems but cost too much, and take too long to build and launch, Walker added. "We have been saying this for 10 years: We want to see a shift to LEO, get capabilities in larger constellations." The more satellites in the system, the harder it will be for the enemy to take it down, the thinking goes.

Larger - Constellations - Missions - Walker

Larger constellations can be used for multiple missions, Walker said,...
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