Lockheed Martin and Tyvak are toasting the success of their latest satellite project. The Tyvak-0129 6U cubesat built by the company hosts Lockheed Martin’s Pony Express 1 package of new hardware and software and is the first of a series of demonstrations planned by the two companies to validate technologies and tantalize government customers.
“Early on-orbit data show Pony Express 1 is performing its important pathfinding mission very well. Lockheed Martin’s HiveStar™ technology on board will give our customers unparalleled speed, resiliency and flexibility for their changing mission needs by unlocking even greater processing power in space,” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space. “This is the first of several rapid, self-funded experiments demonstrating our ability to systematically accelerate our customers’ speed to mission while reducing risk from new technologies.”
Tyvak-0129 was launched in December onboard an Indian PSLV rideshare mission. The Pony Express 1 package hosted on the satellite was developed, built, and integrated in nine months, as well as completely funded by Lockheed Martin. The Among the new Lockheed-Martin tech onboard are the company’s HiveStar software performing the functions of advanced adaptive mesh communications between satellites, shared processing capabilities and can take advantage of sensors onboard other smart satellites; a software defined radio designed for multiple RF applications, store-and-forward RF collection, data collection, digital signal processing and waveform transmission; and a 3D-printed wideband antenna housing.
Pony Express 1 is a dual-use payload to enable mesh network through the HiveStar software package and a second function that tests space to ground remote sensing – presumably RF collection akin to what HawkEye 360 is doing today with its satellite constellation. Future research missions this year, like Pony Express 2, will further advance cloud networking concepts and validate Lockheed Martin’s SmartSat software-defined satellite architecture. Pony Express 2 will use two 12U cubesats with more capable processors for in-orbit data analytics and AI, an application OrbitsEdge is working on.
Terran Orbital, the parent/owner of Tyvak, has a long-standing relationship with Lockheed Martin. The company is the supplier for Lockheed Martin’s LM 50 line of cubesats and received investment funding from a group of investors including Lockheed Martin in 2018. Terran has received around $46 million in investment money and has won a number of government small satellite projects.
Commercial customers for Tyvak include the CICERO 6U satellites for GeoOptics commercial weather monitoring and a number of 3U satellites for Myriota’s IoT constellation.