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BAE Systems to develop autonomous space-based surveillance technology

Updated: Aug 21, 2023


New technology will radically improve and increase continuous target tracking


The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded BAE Systems’ FAST LabsTM research and development organization a $7 million contract for the Oversight autonomous space-based target custody program.


Traditional space intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) collection can be siloed, labor intensive, and unable to dynamically re-evaluate quickly enough to take advantage of new space systems. To address this, DARPA, the U.S. Space Force, and the Space Development Agency are developing satellite constellations to improve the tactical relevance of U.S. space systems.


Proliferated low earth orbit satellite constellations are significantly expanding on-orbit ISR capabilities. The DARPA Oversight program will focus on creating an autonomous system that maintains constant “custody” of a large number of assets across new, diversified constellations. Under the terms of the program, the technology will be deployed to both tactical-edge satellites and ground stations.


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


Work on the program, which is part of BAE Systems’ autonomous technologies portfolio, includes collaboration with subcontractors OmniTeq and AIMdyn, Inc.


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