The US Defence Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) has selected defence technology provider Parsons to demonstrate a prototype ground operations centre (GOC).

Parsons will provide the prototype group operations as part of DARPA’s Blackjack flight demonstration activities.

The $11m sole-source contract was awarded last month and is a follow-on to a Phase II small business innovation research (SBIR) contract.

The SBIR contract was secured by software company Braxton Technologies, which Parsons acquired in 2020.

The Blackjack project seeks to build a ‘constellation’ of cost-effective, small, secure and resilient military satellites using commercial satellite technologies.

Parsons space mission solutions senior vice-president Ed Baron said: “We are excited to bring Parsons’ space expertise to DARPA and the Blackjack programme through this advanced ground operations prototype.

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“Through this expansion of our offering and the ground centre operations as a service model, our teams will enable the Blackjack programme to autonomously fly their satellites from a wide scope of global ground sites, utilising Parsons’ expertise in satellite operations and mission planning.”

Under the terms of the contract, Parsons will develop and showcase the GOC plan, carry out mission planning, implement flight operations and configure the operations facility in support of satellite demo mission operations.

These operations include orbit monitoring, manoeuvring, vehicle health and status and other needs of flight operations.

Parsons will also provide end-to-end network connectivity between the GOC and providers of commercial ground stations.

Parsons’ services include cybersecurity, missile defence, space, connected infrastructure and ‘smart city’ capabilities.

Last year, the company received a $953m US Air Force (USAF) Air Base Air Defence indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract as part of an industry team.

The ten-year contract aims to procure equipment and services to protect airbases within the US Africa Command and European Command areas of responsibility.