Advanced Space has awarded a contract to General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) to support the US Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Oracle spacecraft programme.

As part of this contract, GA-EMS will develop an ESPA-Grande standard satellite for the Oracle programme and perform the associated payload integration and space vehicle tests.

GA-EMS president Scott Forney said: “On-orbit capability to generate greater space situational awareness has wide application as space exploration and efforts to return to the Moon continue to accelerate.

“We are leveraging our standard GA- 500 satellite bus, which is being developed for the US Space Force (USSF) under the EO/IR Weather System (EWS) contract, to build an optimised spacecraft integrated with Leidos’ high-performance space optical payload and a customer provided green propulsion system to fulfil Oracle’s two-year mission demonstration lifecycle.”

The Oracle spacecraft programme, formerly known as the Cislunar Highway Patrol System, aims to boost the USSF’s ability to detect or track artificial objects operating at lunar distances.

In November 2022, Advanced Space was awarded a $72m contract to work on the Oracle programme.

As the prime contractor, the company is designing mission approach and advanced navigation, tracking, and communication solutions for the programme.

Advanced Space will demonstrate space situational awareness, object detection and tracking in the cislunar space, which is beyond geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO), near the Moon.

Th company is expected to launch the Oracle spacecraft by late 2025.

GA-EMS Space Systems vice-president Gregg Burgess said: “The cislunar region continues to be a strategic area of focus for us to leverage our expertise in satellite design, manufacturing, and payload development and integration to support new missions operating in space from the Earth to the Moon.”