Lockheed Martin, the US Air Force’s (USAF) Space Development and Test Directorate (SDTD) and air force research laboratory have entered into a research and development agreement to improve the operation capabilities of satellite command and control (C2) systems.

Under the three year cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA), the parties will research, develop, demonstrate and evaluate successful technologies for quick configuring and autonomous operation of satellite C2 systems.

Lockheed will use its technology engineering expertise from the Department of Defence (DoD), intelligence and civil programmes to address operationally responsive ground system configuration challenges to achieve lights out operations.

The company has also scaled its ground station from a Space Operations Center onto a single laptop, which will remotely direct the ground system from the host hardware, micro-cloud computing architecture.

Access to space missions will be provided by the SDTD along with investigation guidance, system configuration and flight operations support to live experiments, as well as evaluate potential technologies in support of DoD.

USAF Kirtland air force base (AFB) Space Test and Operations Division chief colonel John Anttonen said the agreement will open up SDTD ground station technologies architecture in the private and civil sectors.

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"We are bringing the smartphone concept to our next generation ground systems where satellites are flown as apps and new technology can be rapidly inserted," Anttonen added.

The C2 system readiness will be tested by conducting live demonstrations at the Multi-Mission Satellite Operations Center (MMSOC)at Kirtland AFB in New Mexico, US, in late 2011, 2012, and 2013.