The terminals are scheduled to be delivered in mid-2021 to DARPA’s Blackjack System Integrator with satellites scheduled to launch in the latter part of 2021. The launch will be the inaugural ride to space for Mynaric’s flagship CONDOR terminals – a key milestone and final trial for the product’s successful market introduction.
As part of the deal, Mynaric will also establish the industry’s first laser communication interoperability lab at its Los Angeles premises. The lab will be equipped with a link testbed capable of emulating conditions in space and testing inter-vendor operability – a key requirement of DARPA for its proliferated LEO constellation plans.
The soon-to-be-established interoperability lab will provide laser communication vendors selected as part of the Blackjack program with the opportunity to verify their compatibility with Mynaric’s terminals and between each other. It is intended to serve as a hub and enabler for testing interoperability and to help establish a common laser communication standard within the Blackjack program and potentially beyond.
Blackjack is a joint technology demonstration project by DARPA and the U.S. Space Force to evaluate utility and concepts of operation for a large-scale proliferated low Earth orbit satellite constellation. The overarching goal of the program is to leverage developments from the commercial sector to create a generic satellite bus and payloads for defense purposes. Mynaric’s CONDOR terminal, specifically developed for mass deployment and under stringent low size, weight, power and cost requirements (SWaP-C), is a natural fit for the program.
This award represents further validation that the laser communication market is now experiencing an inflection point and is moving from concept to implementation. Current developments are heavily driven by the fact that procurement for government is changing from acquiring bespoke projects to industrialized commercial products – especially in the USA.
Mynaric expects this to become the standard for how governmental agencies will work at large and globally in the future as it allows for the leveraging of commercial industrial achievements most effectively. As such, initial contract awards from the governmental markets are considered a precursor to the wider establishment of civil and commercial large-scale aerospace communication networks of the future.
“We are very happy to welcome Telesat and DARPA as inaugural launch customers for our CONDOR terminals and we are very much looking forward to supporting the mission’s target to demonstrate interoperability between different vendors. Interoperability allows not just DARPA but all of our customers to de-risk their supply chains and we expect it to work as a catalyst accelerating the large-volume deployment of laser communication systems. Consequently, Mynaric aims to take a leading role in establishing open industry standards for laser communications and it is an honor to host the industry’s first interoperability lab at our facilities in Los Angeles,” said Bulent Altan, CEO, Mynaric.
“Optical Inter-Satellite Links are the essential building block for next generation commercial and government space networks. Mynaric has developed impressive laser communications terminals that we will be demonstrating on-orbit under the DARPA Blackjack program. We expect that Mynaric, as a part of Telesat’s Blackjack team, will show the way to affordable ultra-high bandwidth laser communications capability for future resilient government space networks,” said Don Brown, GM, Telesat U.S. Services.