Blue Canyon Technologies has been appointed by Viasat for designing and manufacturing cubesat for testing of a USAF military communications terminal located in low earth orbit region. Blue Canyon Tech announced its plans to make 12 cubesats fitted with Viasat’s Link 16 terminal that will be launched in 2020. The Link 16 is an encrypted radio frequency that is used by NATO allies and US military for relaying information about view from ships, aircraft and even ground vehicles. If the terminals of Link16 can work on small satellites they can relay military messages even beyond line of sight of military vehicles.
BCT CEO and President George Stafford expressed pride on being given this opportunity and stated that till date the Link 16 tech was limited to line of sight communications but now with small satellite technology it can gain tactical advantage and keep troops safe. Viasat was given contract worth $10 million by Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicle Directorate to carry out tests if Link 16 terminal can be used in communications network with small satellites through program called XVI. BCT is a fast growing Colorado based satellite manufacturer that is building around 60 plus spacecraft for both government and commercial customers along with academic clients.
The firm will also supply its XB1 spacecraft buses for the Link16 mission that are equipped with subsystems that includes flight control software, power propulsion, attitude control, radio frequency communications and guidance navigation. The firm has grown to twice its original size within 12 months and is planning to open a new 80,000 sq. ft. sized office and a production facility by 2020. BCT is making around seven similar three-unit cubesats for NASA and MIT TROPICS constellation that will focus on study of temperature and humidity that cause tropical cyclones. Though all its missions have varied objectives, BCT applies same software and hardware to most of them.