Military commanders responsible for situational awareness and command and control of assets in space know all too well the challenge that comes from the vast size of the space domain. The volume of Earth’s operational space domain is hundreds of thousands times larger than the Earth’s oceans. It contains thousands of objects hurtling at tens of thousands of miles per hour. The scales and speeds in this extreme environment are difficult enough to grasp conceptually, let alone operationally, as is required for commanders overseeing the nation’s increasingly critical space assets.
Current space domain awareness tools and technologies were developed when there were many fewer objects in space. Only a few nations could even place satellites in orbit, and those orbits were easily predictable without advanced software tools. That situation has changed dramatically in the past decade with a developing space industry flooding once lonely orbits with volleys of satellite constellations. Despite this much more complex and chaotic environment, commanders with responsibility for space domain awareness often rely on outdated tools and processes—and thus incomplete information—as they plan, assess, and execute U.S. military operations in space.
To help address these technical and strategic challenges, DARPA is launching the first of two planned efforts under the Agency’s new Hallmark program, which has the overarching goal to provide breakthrough capabilities in U.S. space command and control. This first effort, the Hallmark Software Testbed (Hallmark-ST), has as its primary goal the creation of an advanced enterprise software architecture for a testbed for tools that will integrate a full spectrum of real-time space-domain systems and capabilities. The testbed would be used to expedite the creation and assessment of a comprehensive set of new and improved tools and technologies that could be spun off into near-term operational use for the Defense Department’s Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) and Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center (JICSpOC).
A Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) providing technical details about Hallmark-ST is available at http://go.usa.gov/xqqHm, and will be followed in the near future by a second BAA encompassing additional Hallmark goals.
“We envision a system that would fuse information from diverse sources and vastly reduce the overall time required to make and execute decisions and observe results,” said Brad Tousley, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO), which oversees Hallmark. “For example, an intuitive user interface incorporating 3-D visualization technology would present complex information in novel ways and provide commanders with unprecedented awareness and comprehension. An advanced testbed featuring playback and simulation capabilities would significantly facilitate research and development activities, experiments, and exercises to evaluate new technologies for their impact on space command and control capabilities.”
Specifically, Hallmark-ST seeks to design, develop, and maintain a state-of-the-art enterprise software architecture that would be flexible, scalable, secure, and capable of supporting tools and data from diverse sources. The architecture would need to support the ability to model current and future space situational awareness and command and control tools, capabilities, subsystems, and systems, as well as external capabilities and interfaces to support air, cyber, land, and maritime environments.
The enterprise architecture would be the backbone of a long-term testbed, the Hallmark Space Evaluation and Analysis Capability (SEAC), anticipated to be located in Northern Virginia. SEAC would provide for the effective development, integration, modeling and simulation, and realistic testing of software and decision-support processes relevant to space command and control. It would also eventually contribute to the rapid integration of technology into future space enterprise command and control systems. Furthermore, Hallmark personnel at SEAC would be integral to the actual integration of external space command and control tools, capabilities, and data, as well as execution of a number of anticipated tests and scenario-based exercises.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense