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Caveat Emptor! Satellite 2019 Shows Huge Sea Change In Technology By Julian Nettlefold




There was little doubt, for all those, including the Editor, who attended the buzzing Satellite 2019 symposium in Washington DC last week, that Space and Space technology is the next big growth area in defence, technology and worldwide connectivity. From moon shots thru space travel to world-wide 24/7 connectivity, the Halls and Conference areas were buzzing with new ideas and initiatives from both government and industry alike.

Protected Anti-Jam Tactical Satcom, or PATS

In 2017 Space News reported that Electronic threats against satellite communication have rapidly escalated in the last few years and will continue to advance in the foreseeable future, the Defense Science Board cautioned in a March 2017 report. Similar warnings appear in the Trump administration’s 2018 national defense strategy: U.S. adversaries are developing electronic jammers and other cyber weapons that can render all commercial and most defense satellite communications inoperable.

The Russian military, for instance, has fielded several types of mobile jammers to target specific satellite user terminals within tactical ranges, the Secure World Foundation reported. Russia also has deployed technology to jam communications satellite uplinks over a wide area from fixed ground stations.

If a U.S. military satellite were jammed, the public likely would not hear about it, as such events are classified. Only one U.S. satellite communications network is said to be completely jam-proof, the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) system the Air Force began deploying in 2010 to replace its legacy Milstar satellites.

AEHF is a multi-billion-dollar constellation of four satellites projected to grow to six over the next two years. The newest satellite in the constellation, AEHF-4, Oct. 17 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Elizabeth Forbes, deputy of AEHF Launch Operations, and 1st Lt. Philip M. Castillo of the Space and Missile Systems Center, prepare for the Oct. 17 launch of AEHF-4, a jam-proof satellite the Pentagon reserves for the most sensitive strategic communications. Credit: USAF

Due to growing cybersecurity concerns, the AEHF system is in high demand across the U.S. military. But the Pentagon reserves AEHF capacity for the most sensitive strategic communications — like nuclear command and control or planning air strikes — and wants to move tactical users to less expensive alternatives. The Defense Department has asked the Air Force to provide another option for tactical users that need jam-resistant satellite communications.

The Air Force’s answer to that request is the Protected Anti-Jam Tactical Satcom, or PATS. It is envisioned as a more affordable and resilient military satcom system for tactical operations in a contested environment — a term used by the Pentagon, in this case, to describe anywhere U.S. communications systems will face electronic interference.

Boeing is the prime contractor for the PTES programme. The company was awarded a seven-year contract by the USAF in November for the development of the joint ground system for the programme. The company began the contracted work at the end of last year and is expected to complete it by the end of 2025.

There are three key pieces in the PATS program: User terminals, ground stations and satellites. The project got off to a slow start and so far the only equipment that is in development are the terminals. Two years ago, the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center awarded three contracts — $39m to Raytheon, $38m to L3 and $33m to Viasat — to develop prototype terminals for field demonstrations that are scheduled to run through 2020.

The three companies are producing modems that run a military-developed Protected Tactical Waveform and must demonstrate the ability to provide anti-jam communications to users of the Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) constellation and commercial satcom services. The Air Force has not announced when it plans to select one or more of the three terminal providers to move forward in the program.

After the field demonstration comes the next phase, the Protected Tactical Enterprise Services. The PTES focuses on the ground stations that will transmit the Protected Tactical Waveform over WGS and commercial satellites.

Both the terminals and ground stations will be designed to be compatible with existing WGS military and commercial satcom systems that the Pentagon uses today. A new satellite eventually will be developed under PATS, but the military in the near term will have added layers of security in legacy systems once the new terminals and PTES ground stations are operational.

Industry sources said the Air Force is pressing forward with the PATS program not only to boost the cybersecurity of satellite communications but also because it buys the service time before it has to decide how to replace some of the aging WGS satellites over the next decade. The 10th WGS satellite is scheduled to launch in 2019, and Congress inserted money in the Pentagon’s 2018 budget for WGS 11 and 12. The Air Force for years has been contemplating options to substitute or supplement WGS with commercial services but no decisions have been made.

The PATS effort would ensure that legacy systems get extra cybersecurity. The architecture also would allow the military to use commercial networks from different vendors even if those systems don’t talk to each other. By adding a software layer or a modem interface, the system would decide the most optimal network depending on the quality of service available from different systems and the user’s location.

BATTLESPACE interview with Mark Dankberg, CEO of Viasat






The BATTLESPACE interview with Mark Dankberg, CEO of Viasat, who the Editor had great pleasure in meeting during the show, clearly showed how this industry is in the forefront of technological development. (See: BATTLESPACE Features: Connecting The World – BATTLESPACE Meets Mark Dankberg, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Viasat Inc.)

What do you see as the key technologies which will drive satellite technology in to the next phase of the 21st Century?

We see insatiable demand for bandwidth. Historically satellite technology has been really good at broadcast – sending the same content to large numbers of people at the same time. But, the future of bandwidth demand is clearly more about uni-cast – sending individual users exactly what only they want, when they want it. That is a huge change in the way satellite networks should be architected, designed and built. “Spot beam” technology that enables high degrees of frequency re-use is fundamentally important here.

Another really important factor is meeting the geographic distribution of satellite demand – in the context of the capabilities and availability of alternative terrestrial transmission systems such as fibre optics, coaxial cable, and fixed or mobile wireless. In the terrestrial environment where you build communications infrastructure is as important, or even more important, than what you build. Likewise, the “dynamic range” of geographic demand for satellite bandwidth is large. So, it’s also really important to develop satellite technology that has the flexibility to deliver bandwidth to the places where there is demand – and not strand bandwidth in locations where there is little demand. In the real world, especially in a mobile world, geographic demand is dynamic – shifting with time of day, or with the locations of aircraft, ships at sea or land vehicles. So, being able to dynamically respond to temporal and spatial shifts in demand will be really important.

Of course, satellite technology is needed that can deliver very high transmission speeds – that’s going to mean tens and hundreds of megabits per second. Delivering those speeds into small, inexpensive terminals that don’t consume a lot of power is going to be important to create a large market. Then, of course, the faster the speed, the more “volume” of bandwidth is consumed. So, technologies that enable high throughput – or maximize the utility of the bandwidth available are also going to be valuable.

Of course, satellite networks will have to be safe and secure – actively defended against cyber threats that are constantly evolving.

Private Sector Leaders Set to Build Global Hybrid SATCOM-As-A-Service Architecture








This view was reinforced by a Feature from Ken Peterman, President of Government Systems at Viasat published during the event who sees Hybrid networks as the clear way forward for satcom connectivity. (See: BATTLESPACE Features: Private Sector Leaders Set to Build Global Hybrid SATCOM-As-A-Service Architecture to Significantly Enhance Capabilities for U.S. and International Military Forces)

Hybrid networks comprised of diverse satellites, networking, waveforms and ground infrastructures to increase overall network performance, resiliency and security for government and military users

According to Ken Peterman, president of Viasat’s Government Systems business, Hybrid Adaptive Network Architectures (HANs) present a clear path forward for U.S. and coalition military partners who are now moving into a new era of satellite communications. By moving to a hybrid, serviced-based system, U.S. and coalition partners will be able to outpace near-peer threats and unleash new capabilities across today’s battlespace – faster and more cost effective than ever before. 

“HANs stitch together satellites in different frequency bands (Ku, Ka, Mil-Ka) and different orbital regimes (GEO, MEO & LEO); they utilize different waveforms and networking protocols; and they employ different ground infrastructures,” said Peterman. “By integrating all of these assets into one system, we will be able to create an aggregate enterprise network that achieves unprecedented assurance and resilience, while simultaneously embracing private sector innovation trajectories and preserving market competition.”  

Hybrid networks, like the one Peterman proposes, are now being widely embraced by leaders within the U.S. Department of Defense. In such an architecture, Network Managers can match government subscribers with the satellite network that best serves their individual use case.  The HAN manager can also monitor the demands of the individual users, identify the resources available to them through the diverse component networks that comprise the HAN, and assign users the transport network that most efficiently meets their mission needs at any given time.  

These views were reinforced in an Open Forum discussion, of which more later, hosted by Ken Peterman on the Wednesday of the show, ‘Updating Government Satellite Services Models,’ with a Panel which included Frank Backes, SVP of Kratos SATCOM Products and Federal Satellite Solutions, Pete Hoene, President & CEO, USAF (Ret.), SES Government Solutions and Rick Lober, VP & General manager Defense & Intelligence Systems Division, Hughes.





One only had to listen to the excellent and stirring speech by Vice-President Mike Pence who is also Chairman of the National Space Council, to understand the wave of money being directed at space and space technology.

Mike Pence warned about the proliferation of space weapons and the possibility of conflict in space and how it can be countered by the USA.

“America is leading the way in the leadership of space creating jobs and technology increasing the prosperity of our country. The industry turned over $350 billion in 2017 and we are looking at a trillion dollar industry over the coming years.” Mike Pence said.





Tony Bruno of the United Launch Alliance followed Mike Pence and  outlined a comprehensive programme of improvements to the current procurement policy to streamline and speed up the process. These included:

  • Streamlining the licensing regime
  • Space First management policy
  • Streamline data sharing systems
  • Streamline and deregulate space
  • Create a DoD Open Architecture for space
  • Ensure that 5G technology and then 6G is part of the process
  • Open up the spectrum across the board. This will be kick started by the largest spectrum auction in the USA ever later in 2019.
  • A seamless union of international telecom standards.

“On the fiftieth anniversary of Apollo 11, US Space technology will soon be a reality.” Mike Pence concluded

A Wave of New Technology

The level of new technology and the way forward for the future was highlighted at an excellent Forum on Day 1 of the show, Monday May 6. ‘What’s the |(next) Big Idea? was moderated by Karen Jones, Senior Project Leader, the Aerospace Corporation with a Panel consisting of, Lisa Callaghan, VP and General Manager Commercial Civil Space. Lockheed Martin, John Finney, founder of Isotropic Systems, Shayn Hawthorne, Senior Manager & AWS Ground Station Program Lead, Amazon Web Services, Chris Johnson, President, Boeing Satellite Systems International Space and Missile Systems, Pradman Kaul, President Hughes, Nick Rossmann, Lead Intel Research & Operations, IBM and Jean-Luc Vuillemin, Executive VP, International Networks, Orange Business Services.

What was clear from all the speakers was that government and business is gearing up to meet the new and burgeoning demands of government and people alike with the ever increasing appetite for 24/7 continuous seamless communications,

Karen Jones emphasised the onward march of the Millennials, their demand for 24/7 continuous connectivity and the fact that they will soon overtake the ‘Baby Boomers’ generation.

Another discussion point was which of the new technologies is disruptive to the current technologies. The key technologies discussed were:

  • Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellations came out a s a key discussion point throughout the morning as one of the enabling technologies to provide 24/7 communications. On Day Three, Wednesday, Nick Shave of Inmarsat gave a brief on the new Inter-Satellite Data Relay Service which links Low Earth Orbit satellites with the Inmarsat network to provide continuous duplex data relay from both systems.
  • The need for programmable in space satellites were highlighted by Lisa Callaghan. At present once a satellite is launched, the ability to upgrade and improve its systems is limited by the ability of the contractor to remotely update the software and systems in space.
  • The need for Secure connectivity across the network particularly given the current and emerging cyber threats.
  • Nick Rossmann discussed the use of AI and Machine Learning to enhance and improve satellite systems and networks. He said that AI is set to be the largest technology disrupter in the industry. In addition advanced security technology needs to be developed to brig in new and more secure crypto systems allowing communications seamlessly across world networks.
  • Shayn Hawthorne emphasised the need to develop multi-band secure ground stations to enable governments to conduct fast moving communications across the battlefield without fear of jamming or interference by enemy forces. The whole network then needs to have access to the Cloud 2 system to ensure that the volume of data storage is satisfied.
  • John Finney highlighted the need for flexible subscriber services for governments in particular. Developing such systems allows governments to have multiple User Agreements with a variety of operators to allow rapid transfer of traffic across multiple constellations.
  • Pradman Kaul highlighted the need for software defined networks linking 5G and Millimetric Wave Ka Band systems.
  • Chris Johnson discussed the ned to speed up the development and build of satellites from the current three year period.  Blockchain technology will be a key enabler for the development and build of new satellites and systems. The transition to 5G was also discussed as another key technology together with a new overreaching network rchitecture.

So, for any government procurement official, such as the UK, looking to renew the country’s satcom infrastructure, where would you start to even begin to sift through this mountain of new and future technologies which include ‘V’ band satcom and 6G?

Current procurement cycles usually last ten to fifteen years which means that a technology chosen for a new project is already out of date when the satellite is launched, with very little chance, at the moment of updating the system to meet new technologies and threats. The UK and the USA in particular have been in the forefront of developing new procurement strategies to take this technology advance into account. One good example being the current UK BVLOS, Skynet 5 replacement Programme where the MoD has ordered one not four replacement satellites, to ensure, unlike Skynet 5 that the satellites are not restricted by ageing technology which cannot be updated.

The Times highlighted this problem in an excellent feature published during the event.

Britain is planning new defence and military surveillance capabilities in space as concern grows over “increasing and diversifying” threats.

Whitehall’s first defence space strategy, obtained by The Times, has identified ten key risks to British satellites, which range from temporary denial of service to “permanent kill” attacks that destroy the hardware. The Ministry of Defence has proposed new measures to safeguard space infrastructure that is critical both to the armed forces and the lives of millions of Britons. Satellites provide communications, imagery, weather information, precision targeting and friendly force tracking for the British military and underscore the functions of smartphones, television sets and vehicles. Banks and emergency services also depend on ultra-accurate clocks regulated from space.

The MoD strategy warns that while “our reliance on space continues to grow”, the risks to satellites from state actors and private companies are escalating. “Both China and Russia have admitted testing ground-based interceptor missiles that have the potential to target satellites. Such systems will create significant amounts of orbital debris, putting many hundreds of other satellites at risk,” the internal document says.

Companies are exploring technology “which in the wrong hands could be used against satellites”, the document warns, adding that hackers and electromagnetic interference posed the biggest short-term threat. Other risks to satellites include laser dazzling and missile attacks.

Last year the MoD announced that its space defence workforce would rise by a fifth to 600 people. There will also be a bigger role for Defence Intelligence, the military intelligence agency, in monitoring the threats. The efforts are to be centralised in a new National Space Operations Centre, which will work towards Britain’s target of capturing 10 per cent of the global space market, including tourism, by 2030.

Given all these factors with the added problem of shortage of procurement funds, the answer must be to any government agency, rent not buy!

Governments have for years relied on sovereign satellite assets which not only provide vital in-country jobs but also allow the resiliency and security when conducting top secret and out of area operations. ‘X’ Band has been the band of choice for governments, but this is changing. What is emerging is a policy of hybrid solutions for government communications which include government and civil satcom linked with multi-band secure ground stations connected to a robust digital highway from factory to foxhole.

What industry has to do is to convince their government customers that they have the skills, technology and flexibility to provide a seamless end to end solution to governments linking communications across the globe across a variety of operators. When asked about the network itself and how that should be managed, the general opinion was that the network should be operated on a GOCO contract, Government Owned, Customer Operated.

BATTLESPACE interviewed a number of exhibitors during Satellite 2019 about their aspirations to provide the most advanced and crucially secure technology to their government customer.

AIA Corp.


Not having a Booth at the show, the Editor met Ian Fitchenbaum of AIA Corporation, which is always a pleasure as always has some excellent technology nuggets developed by AIA to discuss!

American Industrial Acquisition Corporation and its subsidiaries and affiliates (“AIAC”) is a privately held industrial investment portfolio with a long term mission to build enduring businesses.

Established in 1996, the portfolio consists of 78 manufacturing and distribution sites with over 8,500 employees in 24 countries in North America, Europe, and Asia. Total annual revenues exceed $1.6 billion. AIA owns over 6.5 million square feet of industrial real estate and hold the exclusive, perpetual license to harvest 22 million acres of Canadian timberland.

AIAC has purchased and operated manufacturing units of Ahlstrom, Allegion, Boeing, Carlyle Group, Constellium, Jabil Circuit, Johnson Controls, Kodak, Lockheed Martin, Moog, Northrop Grumman, Novelis, Raytheon, Rexel Group, The Riverside Company, Sandvik, Siemens, SSC, Suez, Tolko, United Technologies and other large multinational corporations. In addition to purchasing units of large multinational public companies, AIAC purchases the equity and debt of privately held companies.

Ian discussed a umber of new technology developments including the fact that AIA company Bradford Space has supplied the advanced technology glove boxes and the new oven for the International Space Station.

Bradford Space is a world-beating space systems group building non-toxic propulsion, space station facilities, deep space missions, and attitude control systems. Located in the U.S. (California), the Netherlands, Sweden and Luxembourg, Bradford Space has a global presence. In July of 2017, Bradford acquired ECAPS, otherwise known as Ecological Advanced Propulsion Systems, marking a major expansion into non-toxic propulsion systems. In 2018, Bradford expanded its reach by acquiring Deep Space Industries, establishing a presence in Silicon Valley, and expanding into the realm of deep space missions and water-based propulsion.

In early November 2018, astronauts installed the newest Bradford glovebox on the International Space Station (ISS). The Life Sciences Glovebox (LSG) will provide with 450 liters the largest work volume currently available on-orbit, and will supplement the Bradford gloveboxes already in the ISS.

The LSG was originally developed and built in the 2000 to 2005 timeframe and at the time it was intended inside a laboratory module of the ISS. When this module was cancelled in the wake of the accident with the space shuttle Colombia, the LSG was put into storage. Two years ago an opportunity was identified to launch the LSG and place the facility in the Japanse Kibo module on the ISS. The LSG was successfully carried to the space station last September by the unmanned HTV-7 cargo supply spacecraft. Since the arrival of the HTV-7 at the space station, astronauts have unpacked the LSG and installed it in its permanent location inside Kibo. Commissioning of the LSG will continue well into November, after which the large facility will be available for the first science experiments.

He also said that Bradford Space has developed new water based propellants LMP103S which is currently in use for a number of satellites including the Hawkeye 360 and the Astramis system.

Bradford Space’s line of ‘green’ non-toxic ECAPS propulsion will soon be going to space again, now for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). STPSat-5, a space technology demonstration mission built by Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) based on its new SN-50 small satellite bus, will be joining around 70 other small satellites on the upcoming Spaceflight ‘SSO-A’ mission out of Vandenberg Air Force Base, currently scheduled for November 19th. The launch will mark the first time that a U.S. DoD mission will be using the Bradford ECAPS LMP-103S green propellant.

Among other spacecraft on the launch, the STPSat-5 spacecraft will be launching alongside two Planet SkySats which are also equipped with ECAPS thrusters – making a total of three spacecraft on the launch with ECAPS systems. Joining a dozen others, this launch would increase the number of ECAPS-enabled spacecraft in orbit to 15.

The STPSat-5 payloads are provided by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), the U.S. Air Force Academy, the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). As the prime contractor, SNC designed and built the STPSat-5 spacecraft and integrated the government payloads. Bradford is proud to provide the capabilities of the ECAPS system to this user community.

Ian Fichtenbaum said, “The era of using toxic, expensive and inefficient hydrazine propellant on U.S. government space missions is coming to an end. We’re glad that ECAPS can be a part of that change.”

Also noted by SNC’s senior director of programs in spacecraft systems, within SNC’s Space Systems business area, Joel Nelson. “It’s been great working with ECAPS and providing a green non-toxic propulsion is a big step. We are always looking for ways to make space safer and more efficient, and this is a great example of being able to do that.”

STPSat-5 is the first mission to fly SNC’s versatile SN-50 bus, which has both low-Earth orbit and geosynchronous-Earth orbit capabilities. The vehicle is fully compatible with the standard Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Secondary Payload Adapter and is an ideal choice for a variety of operational, technology demonstration, and science missions. The inclusion of ECAPS propulsion on the SN-50 bus is seen as a great benefit, enabling rapid, low-risk pre-launch fueling campaigns and ‘fuel at the factory’ capabilities. The ECAPS propulsion also enables the SN-50 bus to be integrated on a wide variety of small launch vehicles.

The ECAPS HPGP ‘High Performance Green Propulsion’ technology is an emerging choice by spacecraft manufacturers as an enhanced alternative to existing hydrazine-based solutions. The system provides a unique high-density storage, is high-performant and, due to the low-toxicity and low sensitivity of the propellant, easy to transport and handle. These unique assets provide manufacturers and operators potentially profound savings through the elimination of launch-site fueling and enhancing overall spacecraft payload mass. To date, a dozen orbiting spacecraft have used ECAPS propulsion systems, performing dozens of on-orbit maneuvers per month. Several additional ECAPS-equipped spacecraft, including imaging satellites and various U.S. government missions, are slated for launch in the coming year.

LMP-103S is the name of a new monopropellant, tested on the PRISMA mission in 2010. It’s main ingredient is ADN (Ammonium Dinitramide), a strange chemical invented in the 70’s in USSR and independently invented in the West in the early 90’s.

The Swedish Company that owns the intellectual rights to this fuel and operated it on PRISMA have reported 6% better specific impulse and 30% better density impulse than Hydrazine. LMP-103S is also a much safer liquid: stable, not sensitive to shock, air, or moisture, not very toxic or corrosive, and has good temperature ranges for storability and use. It also uses a catalyst to ‘ignite’ and ‘burn’ the liquid.

The chemical makeup is reported as 60-65% ADN, 15-20% methanol, 3-6% Ammonia, and the remainder is water. These percentages are by mass, not volume. The exact percentages are still a trade secret.

We also discussed the new Bradford Space Inc. Deep Xplorer.

Explorer is designed to do something no spacecraft has done to date: use its own propulsion system to go from low Earth orbit to an Earth departure trajectory. We designed this spacecraft to take advantage of the relatively low cost and high availability of commercial rideshare launches to low Earth orbit. With this capability, we enable many exploration and high delta-V applications from geosynchronous orbit, to near-Earth asteroids, to destinations as far away as Mars.

The ESPA sized Explorer can give a 10 kg payload a delta-V capability of approximately 5 km/s, taking it from low Earth orbit into interplanetary space. It then provides all of the services a stand-alone mission requires, including deep space communications, navigation, attitude control, thermal control, and substantial payload power. For maneuvering close to celestial objects, Explorer’s Reaction Control System offers full six degree of freedom propulsive maneuvers.

Easy Integration

Explorer has flexible payload interfaces, but also takes advantage of standard CubeSat formats. So, a payload designed to these standards is extremely easy to integrate. The spacecraft effectively acts as a propulsion, communications, control and navigation platform taking your instruments into deep space.

Flexible and Quick

Explorer can launch on a variety of commercial rideshares to low Earth orbit, and decouples launch timing from orbit raising and Earth departure maneuvers. This gives its missions significant independence. Plus, this spacecraft can go from contract to flight in one year.

Explorer Key Characteristics:

* Completely self-contained missions, subject only to commercial rideshare launch.

* Up to 5,000 m/s delta-V for 10 kg payload.

* Propellant can be off-loaded to make room for heavier payloads at less delta-V.

* 12U inboard volume for payload, and 8U outboard volume.

* Up to 2.5 AU operating distance from Earth.

* Up to 500W power generation at 1 AU from sun.

* > 1 kbps data downlink from 2 AU from Earth.

* 64 GB on-board data storage capacity.

* 3+ years design life.

Spectra Group (UK) Ltd




The Editor visited the Spectra booth to get an update on Slingshot’s progress in the US AWE trials.

“In 2018 Spectra Group (US) Inc., was selected by the US DoD to take part in the 2019 Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiments (AEWE 2019) at Fort Benning. US forces put SlingShot and L-TAC through it paces in many different scenarios, the final report has not yet been released but the feedback has been extremely positive. SlingShot systems were used within the Brigade HQ, on a HMMV for COTM, Ops Room, and as a Manpack.” Pat Gallagher of Spectra (US) Inc. told the Editor.

AEWE is the US Army’s premier venue for small unit modernization, providing capability developers, the Science and Technology (S&T) community, and industry with a repeatable, credible, rigorous, and validated operational experiment, supporting both concept and material development. The AEWE is an annual campaign of experimentation to place cutting edge prototype technologies into the hands of Soldiers to solve small unit tactical problems. The Manoeuvre Battle Lab, as part of the Army Futures Command (AFC), executes AEWE to accelerate near and midterm Army modernization and provide bottom up input to capability development, by providing early and iterative feedback on prototypes in a tactical setting. AEWE is the ‘first step’ of a larger Army and Joint Experimentation enterprise.

Being demonstrated at AEWE, Spectra’s SlingShot added voice and data BLOS COTM to the service participant’s in-service tactical VHF and UHF radios, allowing interoperability between coalition partner radios. Shaun further stated that SlingShot is a Force Enabler, providing man-portable, vehicle, maritime and aviation-borne systems, useable on the move, delivering flexible and low-cost channel leasing and with minimal increase in training-burden, SlingShot really does redefine tactical communication capabilities.

SlingShot is an innovative system that uniquely converts UHF and VHF radios to L-Band Satellite frequency, extending the range to BLOS (Beyond Line of Sight). Conceived and designed in response UK MoD requirements, SlingShot offers a number of benefits for those engaged in high tempo operations, and that require reliable and robust COTM (communications on the move). SlingShot is a unique low SWaP system that enables in-service U/VHF tactical radios to utilise Inmarsat’s commercial satellite network for BLOS COTM. Including omnidirectional antenna for the man, vehicle, maritime and aviation platforms, the tactical net can broadcast over thousands of miles between forward units and HQ locations.  In addition to C2 voice, the system enables data capability supporting mission critical applications such as; Chat, File Transfer, artillery fire missions, Situational Awareness and the Common Operational Picture. With increased benefit to traditional TacSat, increased channel availability and almost no increase in the training burden, SlingShot is redefining tactical communications.

SlingShot works with existing tactical military radios and requires minimal additional training to provide BLOS communications without the need for supplementary infrastructure or additional cumbersome equipment. SlingShot supports the majority of in-service tactical radios and has already been operationally proven. Combined with Inmarsat’s L-TAC leased service, it is fully flexible and designed to meet security and reliability requirements cost-effectively. Users can lease the service for periods as short as one a week in either narrow spot beams or beams customized to meet their area of operations.

Spectra Group (UK) Ltd has been named as one of the awardees of the 2019 Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category, a much-deserved award.



The Editor met up with Michael Geist, Vice, President, Strategy & Technology, Envistacom at the show.

“As your company is new to our readers, could you give me a background to the Company and its size?” The Editor asked.

“Founded by Alan and Alyssa Carson, we are headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., Envistacom provides counterterrorism, cyber and communications solutions to the U.S. DoD and coalition partners in the aerospace, defense, and intelligence communities. Customers rely on Envistacom for rapid-response, secure technology solutions and subject-matter expertise to support mission critical operations.  With an elite team of former military leaders and domain experts located in 11 countries, and multiple IDIQ contract vehicles worth $55bn+, Envistacom is a trusted partner in protecting military, civilians and critical infrastructure around the world. DWOSB.” Michael Geist said.

In June 2018 Envistacom was named the fifth-fastest growing company in Georgia’s upper-middle-market by the Atlanta Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth’s® (ACG) 2018 “Fast 40 Awards”, marking the third-consecutive year that Envistacom has been recognized as a top ten fastest-growing company on ACG Atlanta’s annual list.

The ACG is a global professional organization focused on middle-market growth, mergers and acquisitions, and private investment and, every year, the Atlanta Chapter honors the top 40 fastest-growing middle-market companies in the state of Georgia. The Fast 40 award is yet another demonstration of Envistacom’s rapid growth in the state of Georgia and beyond, with an expanding global footprint that includes a presence in six U.S. states and 11 countries. In May 2018, Envistacom was named a top 10 fastest-growing private company in the Atlanta Metro Area by the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s annual Pacesetters awards.

Envistacom announced during SATELLITE 2019 that that the company is expanding its partnership with the U.S. Navy and Department of Defense through two IDIQ contract vehicle awards, SPAWAR C4I Integrated International Solutions ( CIIS ) and SeaPort-NxG .

CIIS is an IDIQ contract vehicle that supports the acquisition and procurement of interoperable communication systems, and engineering, implementation and sustainment services by U.S. allied and coalition nations. These systems and services provide them with interoperable Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Combat Systems, and Intelligence (C5I) systems with U.S Navy interests and Department of Defense (DoD) security cooperation programs for foreign military sales (FMS). The C4I systems will be fielded on shipboard, submarine, airborne, shore, mobile and unmanned platforms.

Envistacom was first awarded the contract in 2015 as prime contractor with five subcontractors. The CIIS IDIQ award is a $163 million modification to the previously awarded U.S. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) C4I Integrated International Solutions (CIIS) contract.

The SeaPort-NxG contract is an IT-services based, multiple-award IDIQ contract vehicle with a total value of up to $5B. Envistacom will support Naval Sea Systems Command, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, Naval Supply Systems Command, Military Sealift Command, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, the Office of Naval Research, and the U.S. Marine Corps through the contract vehicle.

These contract awards together reinforce Envistacom’ss growing reputation for success with the DoD community and the company’s commitment to providing state-of-the-art C5ISR capabilities to the DoD and its allied partners.

“Through the extension of the CIIS IDIQ and our participation in the SeaPort-NxG IDIQ, Envistacom will help equip U.S. armed forces with interoperable, resilient, reliable and responsive technology, as well as support the critical work of modernizing armed forces, necessary to achieve mission success” said Alan Carson, senior vice president, Envistacom.

In another development Envistacom announced today during SATELLITE 2019 that it has completed the acquisition of Fast Fit Technologies, the leader in virtualized communication waveforms and data analytics solutions. This acquisition represents a strategic expansion for Envistacom adding to the company’s Intellectual Property portfolio and positioning Envistacom to serve as a communication waveform and data analytics virtualization integrator for future Department of Defense network modernization efforts.

Based upon an initial Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract award and multiple subsequent waveform virtualization contracts with the US ARMY, US NAVY, and other related customers, Fast Fit Technologies has demonstrated its clear leadership position in this arena.  This acquisition will enable Envistacom to virtualize the entire communications architecture to provide ultimate flexibility and resiliency for current and next generation satellite constellations and global communications networks.  The vision is a common communication network infrastructure that can host any communications infrastructure’s waveform as virtualized applications selectable in real-time from a library of IP cores by the user.

Located in Frederick, Maryland, Fast Fit Technologies is the pioneer of open-source communication waveform and data analytics virtualization using the OpenCL framework for heterogenous computing and targeting COTS High-Performance Computing (HPC) servers equipped with FPGA-based hardware acceleration. The company has virtualized a number of waveforms and other applications that are available as a library for customer use.  During live demonstrations, their high performance optimized OpenCL library of cores delivered performance comparable to purpose built hardware.  Moreover, the virtualized applications can be hosted in a private data center with HPC servers or can be hosted as a cloud-based application using Public data center resources.  Envistacom will continue to expand this highly optimized virtual library with additional open-standard and proprietary waveforms as well as other data analytics and network applications. 

“With the emergence of High Capacity Satellite (HCS) and Low Earth Orbit (LEO) networks, proprietary waveforms are often developed to optimize the performance of those networks. These unique systems have traditionally required purpose-built and often proprietary modem hardware,” said Michael Geist. “Virtualization will allow users who require network flexibility and resiliency to benefit from the ability to operate across networks, satellites and constellations without being limited by any single ecosystem.”

“The combined team will realize a virtualization strategy providing a scalable hardware agnostic solution with support for any communications infrastructure (terrestrial radio, tactical radio, satellite, cellular, etc.) and support for any and all virtualized waveforms and data analytics requirements,” said Michael Beeler, COO of Fast Fit Technologies.  “Our expertise in virtualization will play an integral role in developing a communications network infrastructure that is waveform agnostic, flexible, resilient and minimizes dependency on purpose-built communications equipment,” said Kasra Toyserkani, CTO of Fast Fit Technologies.






The Editor met up with Murali Krishnan and Irene Lockwood of Harris Space & Intelligence Systems (SIS). Harris SIS is  $2bn business across facilities in Colorado, Indiana, NY State, New Jersey, and Florida.

Key capabilities:

Analytical Instrumentation

Energy Solutions

Environmental Solutions

Geospatial Solutions

Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance

Positioning, Navigation and Timing

Space Antennas

Space Payloads and Electronics

Space Superiority

“Harris SIS delivers complete solutions for global situational awareness, space superiority, and Earth insights. We provide the world’s most advanced sensors, payloads, and communications technologies; receiving and information processing systems; and analytics that give our customers the integrated information and actionable intelligence they need for mission and business success.” Murali Krishnan said.

One of the key products of Harris SIS is space antenna reflectors. During the show Harris announced the introduction of a next-generation space antenna reflector solution to provide critical communication links between satellites and ground stations.

 Perimeter Truss is lighter and more compact than competitive and legacy reflector designs. When stowed, the reflector is 30 percent shorter than current industry architectures and has 50 percent lower mass than legacy designs – creating more flexibility for satellite and mission designers to reallocate mass to other payloads. 

Perimeter Truss is offered in sizes ranging from three to 22 meters in diameter. With a composite structure and Harris’ proprietary high-frequency mesh, the new reflector architecture was developed to meet the increased demand for more accurate, more compact, and lighter reflectors.

Harris’ Perimeter Truss reflector was designed to support the most technically challenging communication and science missions and is one of two new designs that make up Harris’ expanded portfolio of reflector architectures. The company introduced its High Compaction Ratio Reflector late last year.

“The introduction of Harris’ Perimeter Truss Reflector continues Harris’ legacy of providing innovative space reflector solutions for our customers,” said Murali Krishnan, vice president and general manager, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Harris Space and Intelligence Systems. “Harris is committed to advancing our reflector solutions with unparalleled on-orbit success and design options.” 

The company recently celebrated the production of its 100th unfurlable mesh reflector. Manufacturing space antennas since the 1970s, Harris is the world reflector leader, producing significantly more than any other company. Investing more than $300m annual internal research and development, Harris leads the way with advancing its reflector technologies.  

Harris is now part of the recently merged L3Harris.

Hughes Networks




The Editor met up with Rick Lober, Vice President & General Manager Defense & Intelligence Systems, Hughes Network Systems, at Satellite 2019.

“Can you give me an outline about the size and breadth of Hughes Network Systems?” The Editor asked.

“Hughes Network Systems was originally part of the Hughes Aircraft Corporation.  Following several mergers and acquisitions, on February 14th 2011 EchoStar Corporation and Hughes Communications, Inc. announced an agreement pursuant to which EchoStar acquired all of the outstanding equity of Hughes and its subsidiaries including its main operating subsidiary, Hughes Network Systems, LLC in a transaction valued at approximately $2 billion, including Hughes debt expected to be refinanced in connection with the transaction. Headquartered outside Washington, D.C., in Germantown, Maryland, USA, Hughes operates sales and support offices worldwide.” Rick Lober said.

Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES) is the global leader in broadband satellite technology and services for home and office. Its flagship high-speed satellite Internet service is HughesNet®, the world’s largest satellite network with over 1.4 million residential and business customers across the Americas. For large enterprises and governments, the company’s HughesON™ managed network services provide complete connectivity solutions employing an optimized mix of satellite and terrestrial technologies. The JUPITER™ System is the world’s most widely deployed High-Throughput Satellite (HTS) platform, operating on more than 40 satellites by leading service providers, delivering a wide range of broadband enterprise, mobility and cellular backhaul applications. To date, Hughes has shipped more than 7 million terminals of all types to customers in over 100 countries, representing approximately 50 percent market share, and its technology is powering broadband services to aircraft around the world.

Hughes powers a connected experience everywhere through: its high-speed satellite Internet service, HughesNet®, with 1.3+ million subscribers; HughesON™ managed-network services for enterprise/government customers; broadband service to 1000+ aircraft; and Hughes JUPITER™ System, the most widely deployed HTS platform, operating on 20+ satellites to deliver enterprise, mobility and cellular backhaul applications.

“What do you see as a key enabler to drive the integration of networks on the battlefield?”

“The key to network integration is an open systems architecture to allow seamless transmission across different networks with the ability to switch networks and satellite bands to prevent jamming and cyber attacks.  Hughes is excited to be part of this leading-edge team that will define the open architecture of next generation systems. To that end, in April, Hughes Network Systems was awarded a two-year Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) by the U.S. Army for the third phase of the Blue Force Tracking (BFT-3) program. Under the agreement, Hughes and other industry participants will conduct research studies to deliver a series of recommendations for modernizing the BFT system architecture to improve interoperability and resiliency, as part of an Open System Architecture (OSA) consortium working to achieve more flexible network tracking of friendly force locations. Hughes will present recommendations to bolster operational resiliency with emphasis on maintaining communications in contested environments. To that end Hughes is developing new modems to allow switching between networks, satellite bands and LEO and GEO constellations in particular.  The current military satellite network does not have the capacity to deal with the expected and current level of communication requirements.”

“We look forward to providing a unique perspective to the effort as one of the world’s largest commercial suppliers of satellite communications equipment and services. As a case in point, our advanced waveform technology has led to key breakthroughs in overcoming system jamming, which paired with prototypes of a Flexible Modem Interface (FMI) for military terminals makes Hughes a natural fit to support the Army’s objectives.” 

The OSA results under the CRADA will include modular network architecture recommendations for the U.S. Army to integrate various military and commercial networks and services using new standardized interfaces. This approach is expected to foster innovation through increased competition, eliminating single-vendor dependence on closed networks and yielding truly best-in-class technology solutions for the military. 

“This contract represents great progress in the military’s efforts to achieve greater interoperability across communications platforms. We look forward to working closely with the Army in their effort to upgrade the critical system technology that protects our warfighters and allies.” continued Rick Lober.

The final CRADA reports are expected to precede competitive procurements of the next generation BFT system in 2020 or 2021.

“Are you bidding into the UK for Morpheus or the Skynet 5 BVLOS replacement requirement?”

“We have not, but have recently received an order to enable the Sky Guardian UAV to broadcast over Skynet 5. Hughes develops innovative technology to suit customer needs and, in this case, our HM400 was customized for GA-ASI’s resilient communications-on-the-move requirements for the SkyGuardian RPA. We’re excited to be part of GA-ASI’s team and starting the delivery of HM400 units for their next-generation platform. Ideal for military operations in harsh or contested environmental conditions, its many benefits include frequency reuse for high operational efficiency, high data throughput rates for HD video and data transmissions, and a low Size Weight and Power (SWaP) profile. We are also monitoring the US FVL Program providing BVLOS connectivity to helicopters. In addition, we are working with the US Space and Missile Command to provide a flexible modem interface (for network roaming and interoperability).” Rick Lober said.

Customized to meet specific operational requirements, the specialized Hughes HM400 delivers enhanced satellite-based communications for remotely piloted aircraft, leveraging an open system architecture and software-definable modem and waveform technology for a best-in-class solution. Supporting both military and commercial satellite frequencies, the fully integrated and highly resilient solution opens up applications such as search and rescue or disaster response for Predator-variant aircraft. 

Engineered based on software-definable modem (SDM) technology and Hughes enhanced scrambled code multiple access (SCMA) waveform, the HM System brings cost-effective and commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) communications products and solutions ideal for government applications.

The HM System employs a commercially-based, open standards architecture and frequency band-agnostic platform that enables affordable, resilient solutions to meet a wide variety of mobility and portability requirements for government users. With the first gateway installed in September of 2015, the rapidly growing HM System can now provide global satellite-on-the-move for airborne, maritime and land-mobile platforms and on-the-pause capabilities for users in the field.

Suitable applications for the HM System include intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance (ISR), border patrol, search and rescue, disaster response, wildfire monitoring, oil platform communications, cellular backhaul and airborne BLOS communications for manned/unmanned, fixed and rotary wing platforms.

“What other Programmes do you see as key to future network resilience?”

“The USAF’s Protected Tactical Enterprise Service (PTES) programme is a key US Program on which we won a contract earlier this year. The PTES will provide a joint ground-based platform for protected communications services for tactical troops through the Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) satellite constellation, commercial satellites, and the Department of Defence’s (DoD) Protected Tactical Satellites that use the Protected Tactical Waveform (PTW) in future. Hughes is required to design PTES sub-systems for the first phase of Protected Anti-Jam Tactical Satcom (PATS).”

In April 2019 Hughes received a contract to support the development of the mission management system and joint hub for the US Air Force’s (USAF) $383m next-generation Satcom ground system. The contract was awarded by Boeing and involves the company developing mission management, system control, networking and ground hub platforms. These subsystems will support anti-jam satellite communications capability for the USAF’s Protected Tactical Enterprise Service (PTES) programme.

“Hughes is developing a state-of-the-art, containerised software design for PTES data, control and management functions with scalable architecture to enable the use of advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques.” Rick Lober said.

Other HM Products

HM100 Modem

A universal rack-mounted hub that is transportable and offers high-throughput to support ground station SATCOM operations.

HM200 Modem

An award-winning mobile, ruggedized modem for any communications-on-the-move (COTM) platform, with real-time situational awareness and beyond-line-of-sight (BLoS) capabilities. Target applications include land mobile, maritime, and airborne operations. The HM200 offers faster acquisition time, low SWaP requirements, carrier-in-carrier capabilities, MIL-SPEC connectors, internal power supply and separate data and M&C ports. It is also equipped to deliver the best data rates in the market for SATCOM through rotor blades.

HM400 Modem

The Hughes HM400 is the next-generation software-defined modem for satellite communications (SATCOM) on-the-move. Building off the success of the award-winning HM200, the HM400 leverages the unique Hughes Scrambled Code Multiple Access (SCMA) Waveform technology that enables efficient bandwidth use for smaller antennas. The HM400 can operate over multiple frequencies (L-, Ku-, Ka-, Mil Ka, and X-band) and provides the capability to host a large suite of standardized and commercial waveforms like DVB-S2X. The HM400 also provides the capability to access worldwide SATCOM services through existing VSAT and MobileSat service providers or customer-specific networks/gateways.

HM500 Terminal

The Hughes HM500 ManPack Terminal is a lightweight, multiband man-pack satellite terminal that provides forward-deployed teams a highly portable and secure communications solution. The self-contained terminal is transported in a compact case and includes integrated IP networking to reduce the need for transporting additional baseband equipment. The HM500 is designed with a simplified assembly and interface making it an ideal solution for rapid and reliable high throughput communications requirements.


The Editor met up with Scott Scheimreif, Vice President US Government Programs to discuss latest developments at Iridium.

Iridium operates the world’s largest commercial constellation, with a mesh architecture of 66 cross-linked Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites providing coverage to 100 percent of the Earth’s surface, including across oceans, airways and polar regions. Our LEO constellation architecture inherent performance and dependability advantages over bent-pipe geostationary (GEO) configurations.

During the show it was announced that Iridium Certus has won the award for ‘Top Connected Platform’ during the annual Mobile Satellite Users Association (MSUA) Mobility Satellite Innovation Awards at SATELLITE 2019.  Iridium Certus is a unique platform that enables both the development and adoption of specialty broadband applications while serving as the world’s only truly global commercial broadband service.  The “Top Connected Platform” award comes less than four months after the service made its acclaimed commercial debut on January 16, 2019.

With more than 30 global service providers and six Value Added Manufacturers producing terminals for a combination of maritime, land-mobile and aviation markets, Iridium Certus continues to see growing adoption at a global level.  This is the result of its best-in-class service reliability, top-end L-band broadband speeds, smaller antenna and terminal sizes compared to competitive services, cost-effectiveness and unique truly global coverage.  The service has already proven to be a powerful ally for crews at sea, teams deployed to remote areas and organizations in need of on-the-move connectivity anywhere in the world at any given moment.

“We’re honored to see Iridium Certus gain such important recognition from our colleagues in the satellite industry.  Iridium Certus is a truly unique platform and is already serving as an engine for innovation for our partners around the world,” said Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium. “This is just the beginning though, and later this year our partners will receive our new Iridium Certus 9770 transceiver that will open the door for an entirely new family of devices optimized for highly mobile and lower-cost applications.  This can include personal devices offering rich data streams, pictures and even some video at a price point never before possible from a satellite operator.  We thank MSUA for this honor and look forward to what the future will bring!”

“Innovations in mobility, such as Iridium Certus, help reduce the barriers and showcase the benefits of satcom for organizations that previously may not have been able to justify its adoption,” said Catherine Melquist, president of MSUA. “MSUA is proud to present Iridium with the ‘Top Connectivity Platform’ award and looks forward to witnessing the company’s future innovations and continued leadership in our industry.”

Currently, three Iridium Certus terminals are commercially available, including the Cobham SAILOR 4300, MissionLINK™ by Thales, the only land-mobile terminal available today, and VesseLINK™ by Thales, with aviation terminals making their debut in late 2019 and 2020. These terminals are currently enabling on-the-move mobile office functionality for deployed personnel and two-way remote communication for assets, autonomous vehicles, trains and ships at sea for companies, governments and other organizations. Iridium Certus is also being developed as a platform for both maritime (GMDSS) and aviation safety services, as well as an ideal complement to other satellite and terrestrial technologies.






Scisys was exhibiting at Satellite 2019.  The Editor met up with Stewart Hall to get an update on Scisys and its latest space developments.

“Could you give our readers a background to Scisys?”

“The SCISYS Group is a leading developer of IT services. We develop robust, real-world application solutions and provide supporting services that create real business benefit. Employing around 670 staff, SCISYS Group is a leading developer of information and communications technology services, e-business, web and mobile applications, editorial newsroom and advanced technology solutions. The Company operates in a broad spectrum of market sectors, including media & broadcast, space, government & defence and commerce. SCISYS clients are predominantly blue-chip and public-sector organisations.”

“The news that the UK has been excluded from Galileo brought Scisys into the frame?”

“Yes, we are a key supplier to Galileo and to that end we moved our space company to Dublin to comply with EU bidding regulations.”

“Our customers include the Environment Agency, the Ministry of Defence, Airbus Defence & Space, Arqiva, Vodafone, the European Space Agency, Eumetsat, the BBC, RNLI, Pets at Home, Siemens and the National Trust. The Company has UK offices in Chippenham, Bristol, London, Reading and Oadby and German offices in Bochum, Dortmund, Darmstadt and Munich.”

SCISYS has 38 years’ experience in delivering integrated software solutions and high-quality products for satellites and control centres. Our customers range from satellite operators and manufacturers such as OneWeb, Eutelsat Airbus, ESA, DLR, Thales Alena Space and OHB. 

In April Scisys announced that SCISYS Deutschland GmbH is developing two new security relevant elements for the Galileo Security Facility (GSF) in the Ground Segment of the European satellite navigation system Galileo. Following an initial order in December 2018 SCISYS now received the full contract from Thales Alenia Space France. 

SCISYS is responsible for the so-called GSMC-U (Galileo Security Monitoring Centre) which centrally manages security features, and the POCP-U (Point of Contact Platform), which is implemented locally as a counterpart in each country using a Public Regulated Service (PRS). Each POCP-U serves as an interface to the Galileo Security Monitoring Centre (GSMC) at the national level of the member states. 

The development of security mechanisms is essential for the GSMC, which is primarily responsible for security monitoring and the administration of PRS, a specially protected and encrypted navigation signal for official authorities. The focus is on identifying and eliminating security threats and alerts as well as monitoring of the various system components. In addition, the GSMC ensures that sensitive information for the PRS is adequately managed and protected. The Galileo Security Monitoring Centre is an interface to the Galileo core components and the countries using PRS. One of its main tasks is the exchange of cryptographic keys and Galileo navigation signals. 

Thales Alenia Space is the prime contractor for the Galileo Security Facility. The long-lasting and close partnership of SCISYS and the French space company can be described as a success story for the development of the Galileo Ground Segment. The current contract for the two GSF elements once more underlines the efficiency and competence of the SCISYS experts.

Oxford Space Systems

Oxford Space Systems was exhibiting at Satellite 2019.  Drawing on conventional wisdom, as well as fresh thinking, the Oxford Space Systems team is proud to be at the forefront of developments in the new space age. OSS is set on becoming the leading global supplier of innovative deployable space antennas and structures in the new space age. Contracts and collaborations are under way with leading satellite builders in Europe as well as emerging players in the microsat & nanosat markets in the US, Europe and Asia.

Founded by experienced entrepreneur & CEO, Mike Lawton, the quickly growing Oxford Space Systems team contains a diverse range of world-class expertise in the fields of RF engineering, aerospace, mechanical, electrical/electronic, and thermal engineering for the space environment.

Oxford Space Systems currently works in three principle areas of product development: deployable antennas, AstroTube™ composite boom systems and deployable panel systems. Combining proprietary with traditional materials, tighter with an agile ‘can do’ approach means OSS is delivering innovative, scalable structures that save significantly in both build & launch costs.

Based at the UK’s Harwell Space Cluster, OSS has excellent access to the expertise & facilities of RAL Space, the European Space Agency, the Science & Technology Facilities Council and the Satellite Applications Catapult. OSS is backed by significant private equity and enjoys the funding support of Innovate UK, the European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency.

OSS has numerous collaborations with leading industry players & academia both in Europe & beyond and welcomes the opportunity to explore mutually beneficial collaborative developments.  We welcome inquiries globally for collaboration, specific product developments as well as potential terrestrial exploitation of our technology.

Updating Government Satellite Service Models

On Wednesday, Ken Peterman, President, Government Systems, VIASAT, moderated an excellent session on the need seamless connectivity across the world by government networks and how this can be achieved using a new model of lease not buy.






Ken Peterman, President, Government Systems, VIASAT


Frank Backes, Senior Vice President of SATCOM Products and Federal Satellite Solutions KRATOS

David Bair, CEO, Eutelsat America, EUTELSAT

Pete Hoene, President & CEO, USAF (Ret.), SES GOVERNMENT SOLUTIONS

Rick Lober, VP/GM Defense and Intelligence Systems Division, HUGHES NETWORK SYSTEMS

The topics covered included:

1. Do we agree the USAF Adaptive Multi-Networking Architecture increases resiliency, performance and warfighter capabilities in the current geopolitical, peer threat environment; and does the DoD vision offer a viable solution in a timely and affordable manner, while simultaneously imposing cost and complexity on our adversaries?

2. Is the Commercial Satellite Market Aligned with this DoD vision for  an Adaptive Multi-Networking Architecture and aligned around the general concept of SATCOM as a Service-as-a-Service business models? 

>Are our businesses building many beams and smaller beams over time?   >?Are our businesses doing this for DoD, or for a wider commercial market?

> Would our businesses sell capacity on a consumption basis, or demand long term DoD contracts?

> Are our businesses supporting multiple orbits and multiple networks?

> Are our businesses supporting affordable, flexible terminals that will operate among these diverse hybrid satellite networks?

 3. Will our COMSAT Businesses Collaborate, support working together to enable the construct and operation of this Adaptive Multi-Network

Architecture and bring forward our COMSAT IP, networking, cybersecurity, etc. to be a part of this Adaptive Multi-Networked vision?

4. What is the Viability & Availability of Flexible, ‘ready-now’ multi-network user terminals to support & enable the DoD’s hybrid architecture vision?  

> Do we foresee the DoD integrating their networks into this Adaptive Multi-Networking Architecture and what are the challenges to and benefits of doing so?

> Do we foresee the DoD procuring multi-network terminals or modification kits and what will are the challenges and benefits of doing so?

5. What types of Pilots & Pathfinders should DoD conduct to prove the viability of this hybrid approach; and what types of empirical performance metrics should be gathered regarding COMSAT’s performance in a warfighter context (i.e. peer contested environment) so that the performance envelops of these diverse DoD and COMSAT networks can be characterized, profiled and documented so that terminal and network performance across the full range of benign and contested environments are well known and well understood?

6. What types of Business Models and Service Level Agreements do you see emerging from your COMSAT businesses to support & enable the DoD’s Adaptive Multi-Networking vision and how will these benefit constituencies such as the warfighter, the DoD acquisition community, and the taxpayer?

Within U.S. government circles, and other international militaries, support continues to build for an entirely integrated satellite communications (SATCOM) Department of Defense (DoD) architecture, one that would fully incorporate commercial innovation in a timely and affordable manner. To enable the government and industry to successfully advance to a state of an integrated, unified architecture, military leaders must leverage SATCOM as a Service as a “path forward.” A readily available business model to address government users’ most essential challenges, SATCOM as a Service is an end-to-end fully integrated capability that delivers mobile, high-throughput connectivity the way users seek it: easily, affordably and operationally available – anytime, anywhere. This session will elaborate upon how SATCOM as a Service can bring the government into a new era of highly capable, resilient, flexible, affordable and secure satellite operations.

Almost to a man the whole Panel agreed that current procurement strategies need to change and a new model of fast acquisition based on leasing equipment rather than purchasing should be introduced. This is already happening through such Fastrack procurement systems such as the Service Delivery Wrap.  For this to happen there has to be new standards introduced to enable ground stations to be enabled for multi-networked operations to allow not only greater coverage but also give the military the ability to rapidly switch networks and bands as well as increasing bandwith and open architecture systems; common technology for handsets and modems also is a key requirement.

Quotes taken from the session included:

“The market has shifted and old business models won’t survive.”

“Rip-off and deploy” commercial market innovation.

“End state is a national security space architecture that is proliferated, affordable, persistent and provisioned for A.I.  When we’re done, it should look something like the cell phone network we have on Earth.” 

“A very helpful rule at DoD-Wide level will be to drive all services and equipment to low cost, multi-band SATCOM.”

“Acquisition pivot from cost focus to speed to market”; Technology inflection point; Rapid Prototyping; Service delivery models.

“DoD look at leasing services vice buying”

“The SATCOM architecture that works… has five properties:

1. Multitude of beams

2. Smaller and smaller beams

3. Frequency diversity by beam

4. Orbital diversity in forming the beams

5. Multi-network Terminals”

 “Commercial is doing this…”

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