US DoD seeks ideas for hybrid space architecture to rideshare satellitesSpecifically, it is seeking submissions for a “hybrid space architecture” to integrate commercial space sensor and communications capabilities with U.S. Government space systems”.

Commercial satellite manufacturers representing the remote sensing, communications, PNT, and integration services sectors are encouraged to participate, along with information companies specialising in software-defined network architecture design and implementation.

It writes:

“The architecture will be secure, scalable, responsive, and information centric. It must also be flexible to remain relevant and trusted during times of rapid technological change and dynamic threat environments. Software-defined controls, interfaces, and security are foundational to sustaining this agility. This architecture must be demonstrated as a payload (hosted or bespoke) capable of communicating across disparate government and commercial networks.”

The demonstration will involve four identified domains: multi-path communications, variable trust protocol, multi-source data fusion, and cloud-based analytics.

With a deadline of 18 October 2021, the government body is inviting submissions at


The process is run by the U.S. Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), a DoD organisation focused on fielding and scaling commercial technology across the U.S. military.

It expands on the four required domains mentioned above as follows:

Multi-Path Communications

The requirement for the timely transport of information across multiple networks at multiple classification levels without compromising information assurance or cybersecurity. Dynamic data routing through asynchronous disruption tolerant networks requires switching between assorted orbital military and commercial networks, downlinking through diverse groundstations, and interfacing with cloud architectures within U.S. and allied and partner territories.

Variable Trust Protocol

The ability for end users to adjust trust factors commensurate with risk or mission application. This includes consideration of both data sources and network paths. High trust may be required for weapons employment, whereas low trust may facilitate improved access to open source information for situational awareness. Trust factors for network paths include probability of intercept, probability of detection, antijam capabilities, link and end-to-end encryption, and zero-trust continuous authentication.

Multi-Source Data Fusion

The ability to use multiple sources of intelligence data available to the U.S. Government now (and in the future), including a common set of tools for end users to request data. Tactical tasking and scheduling tools will enable battlefield exploitation of existing on-orbit assets. Cloud solutions will allow secure low-latency data storage and retrieval.

Cloud-Based Analytics

This domain will port analytics tools and foster new tools to function on the U.S. Government cloud with data from the multi-source interface, including the possibility of edge-processing analytics on orbit or at the user terminal. Tools include image tagging and sorting and pattern-of-life analysis; voice and video communications tools; position, navigation, and timing (PNT) tools; radiation mapping and modeling tools; and weather mapping and modeling tools.

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