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Raytheon acquires SEAKR Engineering

WASHINGTON – Raytheon Technologies has completed the acquisition of space electronics supplier SEAKR Engineering, the company announced on November 29.

The Colorado-based privately held company is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, which is part of its Raytheon Intelligence & Space business. According to the announcement, SEAKR Engineering brings 540 employees to the company.

SEAKR Engineering is the primary contractor for Pit Boss, the autonomous mission management system that will lead the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Project Blackjack. The Blackjack project will use approximately 20 demonstration satellites to show the value of a proliferated constellation in low Earth orbit at various Department of Defense missions, leveraging standard commercial satellite technologies.

Pit Boss is actually the brain of Project Blackjack, he automatically takes the data collected by the space sensors, processes it in orbit and then sends it to the appropriate system or user on Earth. Pit Boss will also be able to augment position, navigation and timing data, facilitate space-to-surface communications, and more.

In March, DARPA awarded SEAKR $ 60.5 million for phases two and three of the Pit Boss program, with construction expected to be completed in March 2022.

Raytheon is also working on Project Blackjack, having received $ 37 million in 2020 to build Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) sensors for satellites. These sensors will be integrated with both the satellite buses and the Pit Boss system.

SEAKR Engineering isn’t the only Project Blackjack company that Raytheon Technologies has acquired over the past year. In December 2020, it purchased Blue Canyon Technologies, which was awarded $ 14 million to build the buses for Project Blackjack and $ 16 million for payload contributions. The two acquisitions mean Raytheon is now contributing the bus, mission management system and more payloads for Project Blackjack.

However, Project Blackjack remains a DARPA demonstration, not a recording program. Raytheon has failed to win major contracts with any of the official low Earth orbit satellite systems that appear set to carry on the legacy of the Blackjack Project: the Space Development Agency’s National Defense Space Architecture and Space Sensor hypersonic and ballistic missile defense agency. While Raytheon Technologies was one of four companies initially awarded $ 20 million to develop HBTSS, the Missile Development Agency only selected L3Harris Technologies and Northrop Grumman to build demonstrations in orbit. L3Harris won a $ 122 million prize, while Northrop Grumman received $ 155 million in that competition.

When SpaceX and L3Harris, two companies that had never built missile warning satellites, beat Raytheon in the competition to build the Space Development Agency’s first missile warning satellites last year, the company filed a protest at the Government Accountability Office. A work suspension order was temporarily put in place, but the contracts, worth $ 149 million and $ 193 million, respectively, were eventually confirmed by the Space Development Agency after a reassessment.

The purchase of two major Project Blackjack contributors could represent an effort to make Raytheon a more attractive contractor for future profitable contracts for proliferated satellite systems in low Earth orbit, offering a holistic package of buses, payloads and management systems. of missions. However, the company did not suggest in its announcement that it was its thinking in buying SEAKR Engineering. And Blue Canyon Technologies secured DoD contracts outside of Project Blackjack, most recently winning an award from the Air Force Research Laboratory to build a cislunar micro-satellite.

“Today’s growing space market requires more innovation, technological expertise and the ability to deliver a higher space standard faster,” said Roy Azevedo, president of Raytheon Intelligence & Space. “SEAKR Engineering provides depth and strength in all of these areas with a portfolio of proven space electronics and a cutting-edge culture of engagement, and we welcome them to the RI&S team.”

Raytheon did not disclose how much it paid for the acquisition.

Nathan Strout was the staff editor of C4ISRNET, where he dealt with the intelligence community.

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