WASHINGTON — Blue Canyon Technologies has received a contract option worth $26.5 million to produce six satellites for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a company spokesman told SpaceNews.

DARPA has exercised the option to buy six more satellites in addition to four the agency ordered in June under a $14.1 million contract.  

Blue Canyon said the first four satellites will be delivered by the end of the year, and the additional six satellites by the end of 2022.

The spacecraft are for DARPA’s Blackjack program, a project to demonstrate a mesh network of small satellites in low Earth orbit. DARPA plans to start deploying a constellation by late 2022.

Blue Canyon, based in Boulder, Colorado, is owned by Raytheon Technologies.

The company is developing a custom bus design for DARPA based on its 150-kilogram X-SAT commercial bus. According to the spokesman, the customized bus includes advanced electric propulsion, a power system, command and data handling, radio frequency communications and payload interfaces capable of hosting different military payloads.

Blue Canyon’s bus passed a critical design review conducted by DARPA last year. The satellites will be made at the company’s factory in Lafayette, Colorado.

The remaining options in DARPA’s contract, if they are exercised, are worth $41.1 million.

Blue Canyon is a commercial satellite bus provider and has a growing government business. It has made satellites for DARPA, the U.S. Air Force and NASA, and provided the attitude control systems for the first interplanetary CubeSats, which successfully traveled to Mars. 

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...