A team headed by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (LMSSC) has received a $5.7 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to compete in Phase 1 development of their System F6 space technology and demonstration program. F6 is shorthand for "Future, Fast, Flexible, Fractionated, Free-Flying Spacecraft United by Information Exchange."

The DARPA System F6 program will demonstrate that a traditional, large, monolithic satellite can be replaced by a group of smaller, individually launched, wirelessly networked and cluster-flown spacecraft modules. Each "fractionated" module can contribute a unique capability to the rest of the network, such as computing, ground communications, or payload functionality.

The ultimate goal of the program is to launch a fractionated spacecraft system and demonstrate it in orbit in approximately four years.

Capabilities such as computing, ground communications, or payloads could be distributed among the satellites in the network. The ultimate goal of the program is to launch a fractionated spacecraft system and demonstrate it in orbit in approximately four years.

The preliminary design phase covers a year-long period in which Lockheed Martin will evaluate available technologies and simulate the fractionated space network mission.

For the 12-month phase 1 preliminary design effort, fractionation technologies and system econometrics will be evaluated, simulating the fractionated space network mission.

The Lockheed Martin effort comprises a multidisciplinary team of leaders for the various system F6 technology pillars. The ATC, a research and development organization of LMSSC, will deliver advanced research in space system network architectures and control for fractionation.

Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Services delivers ground systems. Other team members include Colbaugh & Heinsheimer, Aurora Flight Sciences, and Vanderbilt University.