Raytheon has partnered with Scientific Systems Company to design the Blackjack Pit Boss architecture for the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Through the Blackjack programme, DARPA seeks to build a proliferated low-Earth orbit (LEO) constellation that will provide persistent global coverage to selected subscribers across the world.

Pit Boss is an autonomous, collaborative mission management system that will facilitate collection, processing and dissemination of critical information to tactical users.

It will include architectural and software / hardware elements to enable constellation-level autonomous functionality.

DARPA expects to launch two orbital planes of ten satellites each in 2021 or 2022 to demonstrate the Pit Boss concept.

Raytheon Space Systems director Mike Rokaw said: “Pit Boss connects the brains of each Blackjack satellite, making it one exceptionally smart, networked system.

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“Rather than sending data down to a ground station for processing, which takes time we don’t have, Pit Boss will send data from space straight to the right operator at the right time.”

The LEO constellation will network sensors together to enable persistent coverage for the subscribers.

Pit Boss will employ advanced architecture and encryption technology to autonomously gather and process data from the whole constellation.

According to Raytheon, artificial intelligence and machine learning could be integrated into the architecture to enable future capability enhancements.

Rokaw added: “Self-knowing satellites are the next step in autonomous space-based mission planning. And, this isn’t limited to missile warning and defence. Future constellation management systems will migrate to this type of methodology.”

SEAKR Engineering recently won a Pit Boss contract to develop advanced processing for the Blackjack programme.