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DARPA wants Space-BACN so satellite communication sizzles

In the space between satellites, DARPA wants there to be a shared language. The Space-Based Adaptive Communications Node (Space-BACN) is a program designed to place satellites that can talk to other satellites in orbit, overcoming existing design barriers and adapting to the future. It’s the promise of robust infrastructure in space, capable of routing signals around damaged satellites.
Like an outlet adapter for international travelers, Space-BACN is a sort of infrastructural add-on that can allow familiar devices to work with unfamiliar systems. It’s a way to take the existing standards of communication already in space and then smooth them over.

“The goal of the Space-BACN program is to create a low-cost reconfigurable intersatellite optical communications terminal that can communicate using multiple protocols and connect constellations that otherwise would not be able to communicate,” is how a DARPA document on Space-BACN describes it in a contract posted November 2, 2021. “In simpler terms, the goal of this program is to eliminate stovepipes and ‘connect space,’ which will in turn enable the joint all-domain fight.”

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