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Lockheed Martin to launch wideband Electronically Steerable Antenna

Lockheed Martin's upcoming technology demonstration is designed to showcase a highly producible electronically steerable antenna on orbit.

Lockheed Martin is gearing up to launch a wideband Electronically Steerable Antenna (ESA) payload demonstrator, showcasing the company’s commitment to cutting-edge technology for accelerated on-orbit missions.

Set to deploy on Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket, this ESA sensor, based on a proprietary design, aims to drastically reduce calibration time compared to traditional on-orbit sensors. Traditionally taking months to power on, calibrate, and become mission-ready, Lockheed Martin’s new ESA technology aims to streamline this process, addressing the evolving mission needs and increased operational tempo.

Maria Demaree, vice president and general manager of National Security Space at Lockheed Martin Space, said: “Our customers’ mission needs and operational tempo have increased dramatically. We designed this technology to showcase how a highly producible ESA antenna could be built, launched, and quickly calibrated and fielded on orbit, in support of 21st Century Security.”

The ESA payload, named Tantrum, is built on a scalable design, utilising reliable commercial components for rapid mass production. Integrated into a Terran Orbital Nebula small satellite bus for the demonstration, Tantrum is a product of Lockheed Martin Space’s Ignite organisation. Ignite focuses on exploratory research and development, accelerating technology development, and introducing new product innovations.

Sonia Phares, vice president of Ignite at Lockheed Martin Space, added: “Within the Ignite construct, the payload was developed from early architecture to flight-ready product in 24 months on an accelerated schedule piloting many streamlined agile processes. For this demonstration, Lockheed Martin has invested its own resources and is embracing more calculated risks from initial development through on-orbit operations to bring new technologies to the forefront of space faster and to keep our customers ahead of ready.”

The Tantrum payload is scheduled for launch in December on a Firefly Aerospace Alpha rocket, as part of the agreement announced in June. This initiative aligns with Lockheed Martin’s broader effort to showcase technology maturity and new capabilities, with additional self-funded technology demonstrator spacecraft in the pipeline. Among them is the Pony Express 2, demonstrating mesh networking among satellites, and the Tactical Satellite, showcasing on-orbit processing, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.

Earlier this year, Lockheed Martin successfully launched and tested its In-space Upgrade Satellite System (LM LINUSS) demonstrator, proving the potential of small satellites to upgrade and sustain space architectures with new capabilities.