Iridium Communications Inc. received a research and development contract worth up to $30 million from the United States Army to develop a payload to be hosted on small satellites that supports navigation systems, guidance and control for GPS and GPS-denied precision systems. The new experimental Iridium payload is intended to be hosted by another low-Earth orbit (LEO) commercial satellite constellation, complementing the Iridium constellation’s capabilities. For this contract, Iridium partners Satelles and SEAKR will act as subcontractors to assist with development.
The Army intends to develop this payload to support the concept of a rapidly deployable smallsat constellation to provide more effective sensor-to-soldier data transmission when in the field. The development of this new payload is based on Iridium Burst technology, a service that can transmit data to millions of enabled devices at a time from space.
“This program can help add to warfighter readiness to conduct a full range of military operations at a tactical level,” said Scott Scheimreif, executive vice president, government programs, Iridium. “This includes the ability to enhance effectiveness of military units, weapons and equipment during combat against near-peer adversaries.”
The research and development project was enabled through an “Other Transaction Agreement” (OTA) in support of the Army and was entered into between Advanced Technology International (ATI) and Iridium under the authority of the Aviation and Missile Technology Consortium (AMTC). The OTA was developed through the authority of the Department of Defense to carry out these types of prototype projects and to further streamline the process for adopting new technology solutions from various industries.
Image courtesy Iridium.