DARPA Awards Contract to Redwire for SabreSat Spacecraft Very Low-Earth Orbit Demonstration

DARPA Awards Contract to Redwire for SabreSat Spacecraft Very Low-Earth Orbit Demonstration

Redwire Corporation, one of the leaders in space infrastructure for the next-generation space economy, announced that it has been awarded a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to be the prime mission integrator for the development of a revolutionary air-breathing satellite that will demonstrate the use of novel electric propulsion systems in very low-Earth orbit (VLEO) using Redwire’s SabreSat VLEO platform. The program leverages Redwire’s worldwide leadership in developing and providing VLEO capabilities.

The strategic significance of VLEO is growing – especially for national security missions. While low-Earth (LEO) and geosynchronous (GEO) orbits are becoming increasingly congested and contested, spacecraft in VLEO operate in a relatively unimpaired environment. Bridging the gap between air and space, VLEO spacecraft fly above airborne anti-access areas while operating significantly closer to the area of responsibility on the ground than existing satellites. Additionally, unlike LEO and GEO, debris in VLEO deorbits in hours or days rather than in decades or more.

“We are proud to be leveraging our SabreSat satellite design to support critical VLEO technology advancements for DARPA’s game-changing Otter program,” said Spence Wise, Redwire Senior Vice President, Missions and Platforms. “As VLEO emerges as a critical domain for national security missions, Redwire is continuing to make investments to support technology innovation and strategic operations in this environment.”

As the prime contractor and mission systems enabler for DARPA’s Otter program, Redwire will be responsible for building the SabreSat bus, advancing the critical technologies necessary for the mission, and integrating, coordinating, and leading the team for the project. To support mission planning and execution for the program, Redwire is using proprietary digital engineering tools that are configured for the unique environment of VLEO. This includes Redwire’s Digitally Engineered Mission Systems & Integration (DEMSI) platform and processes, which utilizes high-fidelity physics and thermosphere models that account for space weather to model atmospheric drag and material degradation caused by atomic oxygen.

Redwire’s highly flexible SabreSat “orbital drone” is modular in size, accommodating a variety of mission applications, including high-resolution intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR); resilient communications; navigation; and Earth science payloads. Designed for performance, endurance and cost-effectiveness, SabreSat is intended to seed the market for VLEO capabilities.

In addition to SabreSat, Redwire’s European office is leveraging its Phantom European VLEO Platform to study the use of VLEO for the European Space Agency’s Skimsat program together with Thales Alenia Space UK, with the goal of substantially increasing Earth observation capabilities while decreasing costs.  On both sides of the Atlantic, Redwire is conducting trailblazing work on VLEO to transform this innovative concept from idea to reality.

Click here to learn more about Redwire's VLEO Platforms.

Publisher: SatNow

GNSS Constellations - A list of all GNSS satellites by constellations


Satellite NameOrbit Date
BeiDou-3 G4Geostationary Orbit (GEO)17 May, 2023
BeiDou-3 G2Geostationary Orbit (GEO)09 Mar, 2020
Compass-IGSO7Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)09 Feb, 2020
BeiDou-3 M19Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M20Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M21Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M22Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 I3Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M23Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019
BeiDou-3 M24Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019


Satellite NameOrbit Date
GSAT0223MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0224MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0219MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0220MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0221MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0222MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0215MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0216MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0217MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0218MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Kosmos 2569--07 Aug, 2023
Kosmos 2564--28 Nov, 2022
Kosmos 2559--10 Oct, 2022
Kosmos 2557--07 Jul, 2022
Kosmos 2547--25 Oct, 2020
Kosmos 2545--16 Mar, 2020
Kosmos 2544--11 Dec, 2019
Kosmos 2534--27 May, 2019
Kosmos 2529--03 Nov, 2018
Kosmos 2527--16 Jun, 2018


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Navstar 82Medium Earth Orbit19 Jan, 2023
Navstar 81Medium Earth Orbit17 Jun, 2021
Navstar 78Medium Earth Orbit22 Aug, 2019
Navstar 77Medium Earth Orbit23 Dec, 2018
Navstar 76Medium Earth Orbit05 Feb, 2016
Navstar 75Medium Earth Orbit31 Oct, 2015
Navstar 74Medium Earth Orbit15 Jul, 2015
Navstar 73Medium Earth Orbit25 Mar, 2015
Navstar 72Medium Earth Orbit29 Oct, 2014
Navstar 71Medium Earth Orbit02 Aug, 2014


Satellite NameOrbit Date
NVS-01Geostationary Orbit (GEO)29 May, 2023
IRNSS-1IInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)12 Apr, 2018
IRNSS-1HSub Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (Sub-GTO)31 Aug, 2017
IRNSS-1GGeostationary Orbit (GEO)28 Apr, 2016
IRNSS-1FGeostationary Orbit (GEO)10 Mar, 2016
IRNSS-1EGeosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)20 Jan, 2016
IRNSS-1DInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)28 Mar, 2015
IRNSS-1CGeostationary Orbit (GEO)16 Oct, 2014
IRNSS-1BInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Apr, 2014
IRNSS-1AInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)01 Jul, 2013