13 Dec 2023
…and RTX to track UK space assets with Low Earth Orbit observation system.Raytheon has received a $10 million contract from DARPA, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, to design and develop a laser-based, wireless airborne relay system to deliver energy into contested environments.
The Persistent Optical Wireless Energy Relay program, known as POWER, aims to revolutionize energy distribution by leveraging power beaming for near-instantaneous energy transport in a resilient, multi-path network. The energy source for power beaming will be a high-energy laser; its power class is 50 kW and it will be government furnished.
Under the two-year contract, Raytheon will create an airborne relay design to enable “webs” capable of harvesting, transmitting and redirecting optical beams. The webs will transmit energy from ground sources to high altitude for the precision, long-range operation of unmanned systems, sensors and effectors. Harvesting energy will ultimately reduce the military’s dependence on fuel as well as its delivery and storage.
Colin Whelan, president of Advanced Technology at Raytheon, commented, “Energy is essential in the modern battle space, and it is critical to achieving military objectives. When operating in contested environments, energy may not always be available or abundant, making the need to generate, store and re-distribute it vital. This technology seeks to enable our military to generate power where it is safe and efficient to do so and easily distribute it to other platforms.”
The POWER program is part of DARPA’s Energy Web Dominance portfolio, which aims to establish more dynamic energy transport across air, space, maritime, land and undersea domains. By establishing energy web dominance, military commanders will be able to reroute energy in a matter of seconds or minutes, enabling them to pivot capability near instantaneously without reconfiguring supply lines. Work on this program is being performed in El Segundo, California.
Raytheon NORSS – RTX’s UK-based space domain awareness specialist – has been awarded a contract to provide the UK Space Agency with Space Surveillance and Tracking Services Data (SST) in low-Earth orbit (LEO) for Resident Space Objects (RSO).
Under the contract, Raytheon NORSS will use its ground-based Low-Earth Orbit Camera Installation sensors, known as LOCI, to routinely collect observation data on objects in LEO, including space debris, defence assets and commercial satellites.
This data will help expand and improve the UK's sovereign space domain awareness capabilities and enhance the UK Space Agency's ability to keep assets in orbit safe from possible dangers, such as collision or fragmentation events.
Raytheon NORSS has recently increased the international deployment of LOCI in order to provide a wider, more comprehensive picture of objects in LEO. The LOCI sensor network will be operated out of multiple locations in the UK, U.S. and Australia.
Sean Goldsbrough, head of Raytheon NORSS, said, “As the number of objects in LEO continues to increase, it's vital that our customers know what is happening with and around not only their assets, but also in the space environment. Our recent international expansion of LOCI will provide the UK Space Agency and Ministry of Defence with the high-quality, timely and assured SST data they need.”
This announcement comes following news that Raytheon NORSS has been selected, alongside intandem, to produce a 10-year strategy for the UK Space Agency's National Space Operations Centre (NSpOC). A key objective of the centre, which is set to open in April 2024, is to enable the UK to deliver on its space domain awareness responsibilities.