Global Microelectronic Shortages Impacting Military Satellite Programs

Global Microelectronic Shortages Impacting Military Satellite Programs

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency hopes to launch up to 12 satellites into low Earth orbit for the Blackjack program next year, but supply constraints are putting the military space network demonstration on hold.

Fremont, CA: The global microprocessor shortfall that has plagued carmakers and consumer electronics firms is having an impact on Defense Department satellite programs.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency hopes to launch up to 12 satellites into low Earth orbit for the Blackjack program next year, but supply constraints are putting the military space network demonstration on hold.

According to Blackjack program manager Stephen Forbes, DARPA is still planning to deploy satellites in summer 2022, but supply problems affecting manufacturers could cause delays. DARPA has placed orders for ten satellite buses from Blue Canyon Technologies and two from Telesat, and payloads from a variety of vendors.

The supply chain interruptions created by the COVID-19 epidemic, according to Forbes, are especially troublesome for operations like Blackjack, which buy satellites in small quantities.

Another Pentagon smallsat buyer keeping an eye on the supply situation is the Space Development Agency. SDA is constructing a low-Earth-orbit mesh communications network and is preparing to solicit 144 smallsats in 2024. Three firms are anticipated to compete for the order.

See Also: Top 10 Aerospace and Defense Consulting

Weekly Brief