Pit Boss Brings Autonomous Mission Management to Space


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Raytheon is designing Pit Boss, an autonomous mission management system for DARPA's Blackjack satellite constellation, with prime Scientific Systems Company, Incorporated.

The Blackjack constellation will operate in low Earth orbit. It will network sensors together with a goal to provide persistent global coverage for many applications, including missile warning. Pit Boss aims to use an advanced architecture, processors and encryption to autonomously collect and process data from the entire Blackjack constellation. It is also envisioned to be able to incorporate future advanced algorithms, including artificial intelligence and machine learning.

"Pit Boss connects the brains of each Blackjack satellite, making it one exceptionally smart, networked system," said Mike Rokaw, director for Raytheon Space Systems. "Rather than sending data down to a ground station for processing, which takes time we don't have, Pit Boss will send data from space straight to the right operator at the right time."

While each individual Blackjack sensor can perform onboard processing, Pit Boss is the data collection and processing data hub. By fusing the sensor data together, decision-making speeds up, transitioning from what is known as operator-in-the-loop to operator-on-the-loop methodology.

"Self-knowing satellites are the next step in autonomous space-based mission planning," said Rokaw. "And, this isn't limited to missile warning and defense. Future constellation management systems will migrate to this type of methodology."

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