July 14, 2022

Breaking Defense: Into the ‘outernet’

Secure ‘internet in space’ key to future Space Force hybrid architecture, Enveil awarded contract to support effort


The Pentagon has taken the first steps toward a future “hybrid space architecture” comprising military and commercial satellites in multiple orbits, moving to design a foundational cyber-protected network integration capability — i.e., a hack-proof (or close to it anyway) “internet in space,” officials say.

The hybrid space architecture concept is an outgrowth of Space Force chief Gen. Jay Raymond’s 2020 “Vision for Enterprise Satellite Communications,” first reported by Breaking Defense. And while various experimental efforts to validate the concept of a space-based internet for military users have been ongoing since then, the Defense Department and the Space Force only recently have fully embraced the concept and moved to coordinate a holistic effort to design and develop the capabilities need to substantiate it.

The Space Force’s Space Warfighting Analysis Center (SWAC), DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU),  the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the Space Development Agency (SDA) now are cooperating in this potentially revolutionary effort, officials involved told Breaking Defense, which in turn will be a key to enabling Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) for future high-speed, information-centric warfare across the air, land, sea, space and cyber domains. The concept would see concentric circles of satellite communications (SATCOM) networks — highly encrypted military constellations, slightly less secure SATCOM provided by allies, and unclassified commercial constellations.


DIU-AFRL Hybrid Space Architecture Initiative

More details about the effort came to light late last week when the DIU and AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate announced a set of four initial contracts under the Hybrid Space Architecture (HSA) program “to provide global, ubiquitous, and secure internet connectivity throughout the space domain for commercial, civil, and military users, including international allies and partners.”

Shimmin, who is managing the HSA program, said that the new contracts — Aalyria, Anduril, Atlas, and Enveil — are being funded by AFRL under a previous effort called the “hybrid gateway satellite.” Under the effort, the contractors will contribute payloads to a “free-flying satellite that’s going to test a lot of these different communications architectures,” he said.

Continue reading the full article at Breaking Defense.

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