Digital Battlespace

Pony Express 1 mission launched

17th January 2020 - 09:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Lockheed Martin has launched the Pony Express 1 mission as a hosted payload on Tyvak-0129, a next-generation Tyvak 6U spacecraft, the company announced on 16 January.

The experimental nanosat payload was developed under a rapid prototyping project funded by Lockheed Martin Research and Development. The payload will act as a proving ground to validate hardware and software for on-board multi-core processing and orbital cloud communications.

Key technologies being flight-tested include: HiveStar software, which validates advanced adaptive mesh communications between satellites, shared processing capabilities and can take advantage of sensors aboard other smart satellites to customise missions in new ways previously difficult to achieve in space; a software-defined radio that allows for high-bandwidth hosting of multiple RF applications, store-and-forward RF collection, data compression, digital signal processing and waveform transmission; and a 3D-printed wideband antenna housing developed by Lockheed Martin's Advanced Research Technology Center.

Pony Express 1 is a dual-use payload that enables mesh networks in space through HiveStar and a second function that tests space to ground remote sensing. Future research missions this year will further advance cloud networking concepts among satellites, as well as validating Lockheed Martin's SmartSat software-defined satellite architecture which enables streamlined hosting of flexible mission apps. This mission consists of two 12U cubesats with faster, more capable ultra-scale processors that unlock in-orbit data analytics and artificial intelligence.

Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space, said: ‘Early on-orbit data show Pony Express 1 is performing its important pathfinding mission very well. Lockheed Martin's HiveStar technology on board will give our customers unparalleled speed, resiliency and flexibility for their changing mission needs by unlocking even greater processing power in space.

'This is the first of several rapid, self-funded experiments demonstrating our ability to systematically accelerate our customers' speed to mission while reducing risk from new technologies.’

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