Military Embedded Systems

Satellite design for DARPA ionosphere experiment notches contract win


November 02, 2022

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Spire Global satellite image.

VIENNA, Va. Space-analytics and services company Spire Global has entered into a contract with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to deliver a preliminary design for a satellite that would carry an array of sensors to very low-Earth-orbit (VLEO) to perform in-situ ionosphere measurements.

Under the terms of the Spire/DARPA contract, Spire will design a cubesat to carry a sensor in a VLEO experiment intended to study how radio signals behave in the ionosphere; DARPA officials say that examining the radio waves in this lower layer of space will help enhance the performance of military weapons systems that rely on radio signals. 

The award is part of DARPA’s Ouija program, an ongoing bid to deploy sensors on satellites to study high-frequency (HF) radio wave propagation in the ionosphere. The program is attempting to quantify the space HF noise environment and improve characterization of the ionosphere.

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