Two Mandrake 2 satellites deployed under DARPA's Blackjack ProgramNews
July 12, 2021
WASHINGTON. DARPA has deployed two satellites as part of the SpaceX Transporter 2 launch. According to DARPA, both Mandrake 2 spacecraft, Able and Baker, are functioning and progressing through checkout and commissioning.
Conceived as an early risk-reduction flight for DARPA’s Blackjack program, the Mandrake 2 mission will aim to prove out advanced laser communications technologies for a broad government stakeholder team that includes DARPA, Space Development Agency (SDA), Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV), and Office of the Secretary of Defense’s (OSD) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) office.
The launch of Mandrake 2 represents the culmination of a rapid design and development effort by a large team of industry performers led by SEAKR Engineering, as the prime contractor. According to officials, Astro Digital built the satellite buses for Mandrake 2. Advanced Solutions (ASI) wrote the Mandrake 2 flight software and is supporting mission operations. Maverick Space Systems performed integration and test analysis, as well as launch integration services.
Lockheed Martin provided integration support and launch procurement. SA Photonics developed the optical inter-satellite link (OISL) hardware demonstrated as part of the Mandrake 2 mission, and SpaceX provided launch services as part of its SmallSat Rideshare Program.