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XVI (Link-16)

XVI (Link-16) [ViaSat]

XVI is a 12U CubeSat built as a technological demonstrator for ViaSat by Blue Canyon Technologies to evaluate low earth orbit satellites to connect to Link-16 communications terminals for relaying military communications beyond the ground terminals line-of-sight.

Link 16 is an encrypted radio frequency widely used by the U.S. military and NATO allies to share critical information. Link 16 terminals are deployed aboard aircraft, land vehicles and ships to facilitate the exchange of data and images in standard message formats. The pilot project will test the feasibility of using small satellites in low-Earth orbits to relay more and better information to units in the field. Link 16 technology has only been capable of line-of-sight communications. By demonstrating that Link 16 can operate in a space environment on small satellites, the U.S. military can gain beyond-line-of-sight tactical advantages on the battlefield.

In May 2019, the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles directorate awarded Viasat a $10 million contract to test whether a Link 16 terminal on a small satellite could serve as a communications network relay, in a program called XVI. For the Link 16 mission, Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) will supply one of the firm’s XB1 12U CubeSat buses that comes equipped with subsystems including power, propulsion, flight control software, radio frequency communications, attitude control, and guidance, navigation and control.

Launch was originally planned to be in 2020 but was delayed to 2023.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Technology
Operator: ViaSat
Contractors: ViaSat, Blue Canyon Technologies (bus)
Configuration: CubeSat (12U)
Power: Solar cells batteries
Mass: 23 kg
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
XVI (Link-16) 2023-084L 12.06.2023 Va SLC-4E Falcon-9 v1.2 (Block 5) with W-Series 1, Skykraft Deployer 3, Skykraft 3A, ..., 3D, ICEYE X23, X25, X26, X30, GHOSt 3, Grégoire, Runner 1, Tomorrow R2, QPS-SAR 6, ÑuSat 40, ..., 43, Aces 1, ..., 4, HOTSAT 1, AFR, DROID.001, MuSat 1, ION-SCV 011, Outpost Mission 1, EPICHyper 2, Kelpie 2, Spei Satelles, ELO 4, MRC-100, Unicorn 2I, SATLLA 2I, URESAT 1, Istanbul, ROM 2, Orbiter SN3, Otter Pup, MDQSAT 1C, 1D, Pleiades-Squared, GEI-SAT Precursor, XVI, AII-Delta, Ayris 1, 2, EIVE, FOREST 2, Lemur-2 167, 168, MISR-A 1, MISR-B 2, Tiger 4, FOSSASat FEROX 1, ..., 4, SpaceBEE 168, ..., 179


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