Emergent Space Technologies, Inc. (Emergent) of Laurel, Maryland was awarded a subcontract by prime contractor Scientific Systems Company, Inc. (SSCI) of Woburn, MA to support development of the Pit Boss component the Blackjack program. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) DARPA Blackjack program aims to demonstrate the capabilities of a proliferated low Earth orbit (P-LEO) system through a variety of on-orbit experiments using 20 low-cost small satellites, each carrying payloads relevant to select military missions. Pit Boss is the computing and encryption hardware and modular software element of Blackjack that is envisioned to enable tasking, collection, processing, exploitation, and dissemination (TCPED) to occur autonomously on-orbit within the P-LEO constellation at mission speed. “Emergent is proud to be an integral member of SSCI’s Pit Boss Team – it is the culmination of many years of researching and developing software technology for autonomous multi-spacecraft missions, going back to DARPA’s seminal System F6”, said Dr. George Davis, Emergent’s CEO.
The objective of the Pit Boss is to rapidly, precisely, and autonomously acquire target localization, characterization, and persistent tracking information using a global constellation of P-LEO satellites carrying military payloads. Additional goals of Pit Boss include augmentation of associated capabilities such as positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) enhancements, as well as low-latency, global space-to-surface tactical user communications. Pit Boss will enable rapid dissemination of critical data to tactical users worldwide, at campaign scale.
Emergent’s role on SSCI’s Pit Boss team is to deliver key components of the flight software necessary to perform the Pit Boss mission, as well the ground-based simulation required to develop and integrate it with processors, payloads and the Human-Machine Subscriber Interface. This includes leading the implementation of a Modular Open Systems Architecture to enable component interactions and system extensibility, development of a Software Development Kit that will allow third party developers access to the Pit Boss platform, development of a comprehensive model of the system to enable validation of system functionality and coordination of modeling and simulation development to include space and ground segments and multiple networks. According to Brendan O’Connor, Emergent’s Vice President for Advanced Programs, “the SSCI Pit Boss team is building the most advanced and flexible software suite ever flown on a satellite constellation.”