A team headed by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. (LMSSC) has received a $5.7 M contract from DARPA to compete in Phase 1 development of its System F6 space technology and demonstration program. F6 is shorthand for “Future, Fast, Flexible, Fractionated, Free-Flying Spacecraft United by Information Exchange.”

The DARPA System F6 program intends to demonstrate that a traditional, large, monolithic satellite can be replaced by a group of smaller, individually launched, wirelessly networked and cluster-flown spacecraft modules. Each “fractionated” module can contribute a unique capability to the rest of the network, such as computing, ground communications, or payload functionality. The ultimate goal of the program is to launch a fractionated spacecraft system and demonstrate it in orbit in approximately four years.

“Our team brings together the perfect combination of innovation, expertise, experience and past performance to successfully demonstrate the value and flexibility of a fractionated approach to satellite systems,” said Jim Ryder, vice president of the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Advanced Technology Center (ATC) in Palo Alto, CA. “For our 12-month Phase 1 preliminary design effort, we will evaluate fractionation technologies and system econometrics, simulate the fractionated space network mission with our extensive space-qualified hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) and Controls & Automation Laboratory testbeds and work closely with our DARPA partner to conduct a thorough stakeholder analysis to identify potential mission partners.”

The Lockheed Martin effort comprises a multi-disciplinary team of leaders for all System F6 technology pillars. The ATC delivers advanced research in space system network architectures and control for fractionation. The LMSSC Surveillance & Navigation Systems (SNS) line of business delivers experience in mission partner concepts and fielding SmallSats for proximity operations. Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Services (IS&GS) delivers ground systems. Other teammates include Colbaugh & Heinsheimer (supported by several Stanford University professors), Aurora Flight Sciences (supported by several MIT professors) and Vanderbilt University.