Qioptiq logo Raytheon Global MilSatCom


01 Oct 20. SMi’s 22nd Annual Global MilSatCom, 10 – 12 November 2020.

Virtual Conference & Exhibition: Online Access Only.


Gold Sponsor: Airbus

Sponsors: GovSat, Isotropic Systems, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, ST Engineering iDirect, Thales Communications, Viasat.

Exhibitors: Hytec Inter, Marlink SAS.

SMi Group are proud to announce that the 22nd annual Global MilSatCom Conference and Exhibition will be taking place on the 10th, 11th and 12th November as a virtual event.

As Europe’s leading military communications event for satellite professionals, Global MilSatCom provides an unparalleled opportunity to meet with senior decision makers from defence agencies, militaries, governments and industry from across the globe, providing fantastic interactive opportunities through conference sessions, networking receptions and a virtual exhibition area.

This year, the conference will highlight topics such as SATCOM resilience, hybrid capability, payload delivery, the impact of emergent LEO mega-constellations and more, providing a holistic view of the future of connectivity.

Delegates can expect to hear crucial updates on the SKYNET programme as it evolves into SKYNET 6, discover more about the emergence of the US Space Force and the DoD’s new “go fast” procurement efforts, and explore international SATCOM programme developments, where opportunities for partnerships may be developed.

Key Reasons to Attend Global MilSatCom 2020:

  • Hear essential updates on the UK’s SKYNET programme from both MoD and industry perspectives as the constellation evolves into SKYNET 6
  • Explore US SATCOM development, understanding more about the new Space Force and how innovation is being driven through SMC 2.0 and AFRL’s Space Innovation Pitch Days
  • Listen to key international partner updates, including briefings from crucial regions including Europe and Asia Pacific
  • Network with an anticipated 600 attendees from defence agencies, militaries, governments and industry over 7 hours of networking

To register or for more information visit: http://www.globalmilsatcom.com/battlespaceNL

12 Oct 20. UK Strategic Command to lead top-level participation at DSEI 2021. The UK’s new Strategic Command will lead government participation at DSEI 2021 as it engenders multi-domain integration with the support of the UK defence community.

The Command has been charged with transitioning the traditional warfare era’s Joint Force into the Information Age’s Integrated Force. Initial priorities for the Command include generating strategic integration across defence, establishing dominance in the ‘grey zone’ of the battlefield through special operations, and harnessing disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data in the cyber domain.

UK Defence, industry, partners and academia will play a key role in facilitating this change, enabling the British armed forces to better face emerging challenges at home and overseas, and fuse capabilities and activity across all domains at a pace which outstrips adversaries.

DSEI 2021 will offer a forum for industry to showcase capabilities that support a persistent national strategic advantage, and can be deployed to, employed in, and exploit multiple domains at tempo.

General Sir Patrick Sanders, Commander UK Strategic Command, commented: “UK Strategic Command looks forward to being a key participant in DSEI 2021, setting out our responsibilities and our thinking – as UK Defence’s integrator and responsible for key strategic capabilities – against the rapidly changing character of warfare.

“The exhibition also provides an essential opportunity to discuss and highlight the contribution Defence & Security industries offer in ensuring we recover stronger from COVID19. In an increasingly globalised and complicated world, we cannot afford to think linearly and try and draw a distinction between the various forms of security – they are all one story, and a prosperous industrial base is critical to the economy and to our national security.”

Bringing together defence innovation leaders from across the land, air, sea and joint  domains, DSEI industry participants from all levels of the defence industry will be able to engage directly with British Armed Forces stakeholders and gain insight on the capabilities and structures required for the 2030s and beyond.

Gen Sanders added: “I look forward to seeing you at DSEI 2021 and updating you on our plans for implementing Multi-Domain Integration, and how industries – from traditional Defence primes to tech-start-ups – can play their part in the UK’s collective success alongside our partners and allies.”

“It is hugely validating to have the support of UK Strategic Command behind DSEI 2021. We believe that DSEI offers the single most valuable opportunity in the biennial defence trade show calendar to connect UK companies and their international counterparts with each other and their end customers across the land, sea and air domains,” Grant Burgham, DSEI Event Director, Clarion Defence & Security, commented. “We aim to foster business connections at every level and look forward to presenting a world-class industry response to UK Strategic Command’s requirements as they look to support emerging operating concepts over the coming decade.”

06 Oct 20. Satellite Innovation 2020 Virtual — Day One A Success. Participants Dr. Marco Villa of Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, Chris Quilty of Quilty Analytics, Carissa Christensen of Bryce Space and Technology and Richard Rogers of Stellar Solutions offered their thoughts regarding the “today” and “tomorrow” of the satellite and space environs.

Dr. Villa said that he didn’t believe many companies have had to shut down due to the coronavirus invasion and noted that there is a positive outlook by his company as well as the industry right now; however, the supply chain has “not been so lucky.”

Financial reporting was broached by Mr. Baugh and Mr. Quilty stated that three words come to mind for him… “resilience, dynamics and uncertainty” and there have been significant changes to the norm across the industry. The chessboard has shifted with all of these changes and operations are much harder now than they were five to 10 years ago. Many questions will come forward as all progress into the future and there will be a great deal to sort through during the next five to 12 months.

Carissa Christensen noted that some of the major primes that have an enormous aviation side to their business have been significantly impacted by the viral invasion and there has been “a reduced willingness to invest or allocate resources. Venture deals have been paused, except for brand new funding efforts.” She noted there has certainly been concern over reserving capital for company portfolios and the record breaking investments experienced over the past years won’t be seen this year.

Richard Rogers believes the biggest impact of the corona virus is the inability to interact with partners — the new normal is remote working versus the customer premises visits of the past.

Dr. Marco Villa sees the critical dependencies of the supply chain have definitely been affected. Those firms that were already positioned and working on vertical integration have been able to maneuver successfully through this health crisis, and those who were not so positioned are having a much harder time with their operations. Drastic changes are ahead.

Chris Baugh then asked the participants if “we are out of the woods,” given that there is so much in the way of business opportunity, new investments are occurring and money is attempting to find a home again. “Are we OK?” he asked.

Chris Quilty sees new growth and fresh starts in the industry that are being funded by venture capital and that’s something new for this industry. However, if healthy ideas aren’t developed over the next two to three yeas, that could be problematic for the industry. There are definitely government spending surges for satellite business as outsourcing to commercial entities continues.

Dr. Marco Villa doesn’t believe the industry is out of the woods yet, especially regionally, but there is a general optimistic outlook for the future.

Carissa Christensen stated that there is a certain level of uncertainty from investors. She agrees with Chris Quilty regarding government spending, as they are not short term users of the technology — U.S. and Allies’ national security concerns are becoming even more reliant on satellite. Growth is highly likely to continue and is relatively predictable on the government side. Space exploration, she added, is far more subject to political will. Increases to a NASA budget or other civil space projects tend to be bi-partisan — but, if there are administration changes post election, there could be some redirection and rolling back of resources to civil space that will affect a firm’s activities.

Chris Baugh commented that investment drives everything. Looking at trends taking place, he asked if is this an “up year” and, if so, what should be anticipated?

Carissa Christensen replied that this will not be a record breaking year, but it also won’t be a year when no one could raise money.

Richard Rogers added that he is seeing an uptick in business and investment companies are seriously looking at projects possessing AI enabled analytics.

Chris Baugh mentioned that there was another Starlink launch this morning (October 6), bringing to mind that ISS has had to maneuver 3x this year to dodge debris. Given that there is an overwhelming amount of activity from the industry into the LEO space, the question becomes where is this all going and how does it end? Is this the future for us all?

Carissa Christensen commented that it is important to remember that deployment does not equal biz success. Business failure does not mean the end of the capability. Broadband systems are being deployed, but… can they find customers? There are compelling business case aspects and significant risks to all involved. One of the topics that needs discussion is the carrying cost of a LEO broadband business.

Chris Quilty said that four or five years ago, when LEO first showed up, we were pretty doubtful about how that would be funded. At least three LEO band constellations — Amazon, SpaceX and OneWeb — have negotiated the funding aspects, so far. Companies will have to get a lot leaner if they are going to operate successfully.

Audience question included… Is GEO still relevant? Chris gave his thumbs up, but believes this will change. Starlink is leading the race, launching constantly, and the company has a lot of gateways in the US Canada… but, are they are a success? Chris said the determination as to Starlink’s success will be determined when we know how much more capital they need to raise. There’s huge investment necessary for the ground side of the biz and more investment will be needed in order to fund operations… just follow the dollars. He did add that one of the big LEOs must succeed in order to obtain investment from non-space investors. In regard to possible outcomes following the upcoming US elections, the general thought was that changes are unavoidable on the political side — this current administration hasn’t been one of the strongest in support of space, but spending should not substantially decrease. On the military side, there won’t be a lot of change. On the civil side, there will definitely be change — in FY22, things will get more challenging in regard to cash flow.

Mark Dankberg offered his keynote following Session 1, Equitable Access to Scarce NGSO Resources. He discussed the regularity environment within which the industry must operate, especially as new regulations are being formulated that will govern everyone’s access to space.

Mega-constellation require new legislation to preserve everyone’s access to space. He noted that unreliable satellites increase collision risks. Mega-constellations can deny access to spectrums and inefficient use consumes scarce orbital resources. New policies should balance the ability to commercialize space with the public interest in mind.

Two years ago, the FCC put out a proposal regarding orbital debris. One main point was that of the 100,000 objects between 1 and 10 cm, about 23,000 were associated with two fragmentation events from satellite collisions. In the last week or so, ESA provided information that revealed a large increase in payload fragmentation, with about 5,000 new payload fragments debuting. When collision occurs, very large debris fields (within 1600 kilometers in area size) are created.

AGI looked ten years ahead and noted that a lot of satellites will cross and this will become a very congested area. AGI estimated some 50,000 maneuvers will occur over 10 years. As Mark said, failed satellites cannot avoid collisions and debris can last for very long periods of time. The FCC has proposed an aggregate collision metric, and that makes a lot of sense to Mark. Debris policies should be addressed by the international satellite and space communities now!

During the LEO Band Developments panel, Dan Ceperley of LeoLabs, Jonathan Hofeller of SpaceX, Karl Kensinger of the FCC, and Tony Gingiss of OneWeb Satellites offered their expert opinions. Steve Kaufman of Hogan Lovells moderated the session. Questions presented to the panelists ranged from “Is there really that much demand for LEO service” to “what is the US Government involvement in supporting and using LEO satellites” to questions regarding space debris.

Jonathan Hofeller indicated without a doubt that high speed, super low latency connectivity is being provided by his firm and that he doesn’t see an end to demand anytime soon, as more and more connectivity is being demanded by users. He added that consumers don’t really care whether their broadband comes from space or not and LEO systems are capable of providing such connectivity. Jonathan said that companies learn a great deal by launching and operating satellites… in example, he presented the SpaceX challenge when confronted by astronomy professionals and their concerns regarding satellite reflectivity. Those challenges were quickly addressed on the firm’s next launch.

Tony Gingiss added that billions on the planet remain unconnected, including more than a half billion students across the globe as well as rural areas in the US that are not connected. “Absolutely,” he said, ”the demand for connectivity is there.” He added that, at the end of the day, it’s about the tech that was formulated 18 months ago and is now heading into operational orbit. In order to stay ahead of the curve, today’s new space tech should be heading to orbit in just quarters or months from now — the question is exactly how quickly new tech can enter operational service. There will always have to be proven tech in the satellite development mix, otherwise, failures will result. The barrier to success in space is much higher than for terrestrial-based solutions… if a space segment fails, the consequences will be bigger. Agility is required to get tech into space. He added that there are multi-pronged way to handle space debris — and one element is the way in which information is acquired. Putting up reliable systems is of crucial importance and that systems should work toward “responsible space,” from maintaining control of it to getting that satellite out of orbit to prevent additional debris should that craft become non-functional. Debris mediation cannot be addressed in “onesies” or “twosies.”

Dan Ceperley noted that connectivity is of critical importance and the number of programs within the federal government continue to move toward supporting the licensing of systems and continues to be area of focus. He said there is certainly unmet need “out there” and should be addressed as quickly as possible. Dan expressed that mega-constellations are driving the state of the satellite technology forward and that the LEO economy is maturing. In addition to broadband, Internet of Things (IoT) constellations are being developed. Definitely, the pace of innovation continues to be on the rise. When it comes to debris, three elements are present to prevent such from occurring: first, do not create problematic satellites in first place, secondly, engage in satellite tracking and work on avoidance issues. Ultimately, debris can be cleaned up and a tool for such space work is needed by the industry. Also, get rid of old, large rocket bodies that possess huge mass… one such rocket is capable of creating thousands of pieces of debris. Companies and the government can establish good policies in regard to offsetting LEO debris. Dan believes that satellites launched in batches need to be tracked directly after launch and ground operations must get in touch with those satellites immediately after launch to avoid on-orbit complications. His firm will be releasing a service to track satellites to remove that period of uncertainty after launch. Once the satellite reaches orbit, tracking and ground station contact concerns will become a distant memory.

Karl Kensinger reported that at his division at the FCC, they’re all about sats. Part of the FCC’s role is to support such development. Satellites are one part of an entire toolbox to address connectivity, service provisioning, and more. The FCC is glad to see developments in the satellite community; however, the government does not put all of their eggs in one basket. This is a rich tech environment and satellites have an important role. The FCC tries to advance those systems. His agency is working through licensing requests, but there are still some process issues. Improvements are being made. There is now a seat licensing program that should eventually provide a streamlined, lower registration costs. The FCC has three applications in the hopper at this point in time and continues to examine fees that were the result of legislation passed a couple of years ago. Proceedings will be underway at the FCC this week regarding orbital debris. Questions will deal with large constellations and its clear that large constellations recognize they have to take some extra steps in this endeavor due to their level of their activity. The other part are questions about tracking and data sharing and work is being done with FAA, DoD and other agencies to improve the processes already in place and the support the government provides. It is very clear that the way the industry is currently working, especially in LEO, is now at a different pace.

Pradman Kaul, the CEO of Hughes Network Systems, presented the second keynote presentation of Day One. He delved into some of the history behind the Hughes Network Systems company as well as some of his own past experiences, such as his work at Digital Communications Corporation, the precursor to Hughes.

Back then, he noted, they could never have imagined the services that are being offered today and that millions of users are now connected. When discussing powering the connected future, Pradman said that no single transport technology can meet all of the requirements for connectivity and won’t be able to do so today, nor in the future. Today’s hybrid net continues to evolve and all will soon see 5G deployed; however, none of these networks will operate in isolation. Applications must be agnostic no matter the mode of transportation used.

He noted that mega-constellations require sophisticated designs to offset environmental effects, such as rain fade, all the while providing increased capacity. The pressure will be on the network as more and more devices are being used simultaneously.

He acknowledged that no one predicted the demand for connectivity that the global pandemic would ignite. Networks must be built with the ability to be modified in real time and be able to adjust for unexpected surges with the ability to adjust for traffic demands. Payloads must be flexible to adjust capacity once on-orbit, requiring group networks to be as equally adaptable to conditions. Timing is critical. We are on the cusp of what is to come and intelligent networks must be capable of surviving critical events. The leap must be made to intelligent networks as traffic continues to grow.

The pandemic has been an eye opener on may levels and it is not an understatement to say it forced rapid, disruptive changes in our society. Business have or are learning how to be more proficient and productive, remotely. Engineers at Hughes are working on providing more broadband services, but demand will continue to outpace supply.

The best part of this industry is the ability to change the lives of millions of people and in knowing a difference has been made in their existence thanks to satellite connectivity. An element that remains unchanged throughout this entire pandemic is that the passion to meet customers’ needs and to explore new ways to make networks more useful and more powerful continues unabated.

SSPI’s 15th Future Leaders Celebration was held virtually in conjunction with the virtual Satellite Innovation 2020 conference, produced by Satnews publishers. The virtual Future Leaders Celebration was conducted live, via Zoom, and included breakout rooms for chatting and networking with colleagues throughout the industry. This inspiring and entertaining event, held October 6, 2020, honored the third annual cohort of the “20 Under 35” young space and satellite professionals to watch in the years ahead.

The 2020 Mentor of the Year is Dawn Harms, Chief Revenue Officer, Momentus Inc. A proven leader in the global satellite and launch services industry, Dawn formerly served as Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing at Boeing and has held executive positions at International Launch Services (ILS) and MAXAR. She received a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has long served on their engineering advisory board. She is Chair Emeritus of SSPI and currently serves on ManSat’s board of directors. While serving in mission-critical executive roles, Dawn has always taken time to mentor the next generation, both at the companies where she works and by working with students looking to enter the industry.

2019 Awards

Daniel Alvarez, Space Mission Program Manager, Millennium Space Systems, A Boeing Company. At the age of 31, Dan has served and excelled in many roles since joining the Boeing Company. As a Mechanical Design Engineer, he was a key designer of Boeing’s Modular Reflector, which significantly reduced the cost of a reflector and is now baselined on all of Boeing’s largest commercial satellites. Dan’s current role at Millennium Space Systems is as a Space Mission Program Manager, where he is leading one of Millennium’s flagship programs. He was responsible for the first-ever implementation of an Earned Value Management System and Integrated Baseline Review at Millennium, and successfully led a competitive proposal effort to win the first two production Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity delivery orders to build up the follow-on operational constellation.

Julian Horvath, Principal Engineer, Satellite Operations & Ground Development, Iridium. Julian began his career as a Systems Engineer at General Dynamics after receiving his Bachelor of Science in Space Physics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. In his next position at Orbital Sciences Corporation, he led the systems engineering effort to design and implement an on-orbit data storage solution for all on-orbit vehicles, for which he received an award from the company. Julian joined Iridium in 2012 and was the youngest employee ever at the company to be promoted to Principal Engineer. In this position, Julian was tasked with leading the launch preparation, on-orbit testing, operational checkout and mission activation for Iridium NEXT, one of the largest constellations of commercial satellites ever launched.

Natalia Larrea Brito, Senior Affiliate Consultant, Euroconsult. Natalia completed a Master’s in Aerospace Engineering from McGill University (Montreal, Canada) and a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Telecommunications Engineering from Universidad Alfonso X El Sabio (Madrid, Spain). She also holds a Diploma in Astronomy and Planetary Science from the Open University UK and is a graduate of the International Space University (ISU) SSP14 program, for which she received SSPI’s International Scholarship that year. In her current role at Euroconsult, she manages research activities and consulting missions for government and private organizations in the space sector. She focuses on the assessment of government programs, new technologies and the strategic analysis of industrial and commercial space markets with special focus on space exploration. She supports and advises established and developing space players, assessing new satellite programs, defining new space policies and conducting socio-economic studies.

Some general thoughts from those registered as well as exhibiting at this event included appreciation for an interface that allowed visitors to “travel” to booths, attend presentations and discuss events with one another without difficulty, a testament to some terrific pre-show and interface planning. (Source: Satnews)

07 Oct 20. Informative Sessions Rule Satellite Innovation 2020 Virtual’s Day Two Event. The attendee response to the Satnews Satellite Innovation 2020 Virtual event has been most interesting… a small sample of the responses to questions asked of some of those in attendance revealed, “I had no idea a virtual event could accomplish an event of this size,” to “Most surprising… and I was able to discuss and visit and talk with some exhibitors in real time,” to “Speakers were highly knowledgeable and presented their information in a direct and enlightening manner. I came away knowing more than when I first logged on,” to “Virtual works!”

The first session of Day Two at Satellite Innovation 2020 Virtual was entitled “Executive Market Forecast — Space Systems” and was moderated by Randy Segal of Hogan Lovells. The subject-matter experts on the panel included Janna Lewis of BAE Systems, Dr. Giulio Renzo of Avio SpA, Jeff Matthews of Deloitte Consulting and Jackie Schmoll of L3Harris Technologies.The first thrust of this session was to discuss 2020/21 — these have been seen as shift years in financing and system developments for various space systems. The rush to the moon and other space tourism events, plus multiple deep space projects, have not yet been put on hold. The FCC has finalized plans for the transfer of 280 megahertz of C-band spectrum for use in 5G cellular networks and that has lead to much needed orders for satellite builds for the major manufacturers. LEO broadband constellations, such as OneWeb and Starlink, continue to grow despite bankruptcy in the former’s case, as well as a somewhat nebulous marketplace. Satellites continue play a pivotal role in communications, especially in the locked down situation the world is currently facing.

Randy Segal started the conversations by mentioning the Smallsat Symposium that will occur next February where she hopes all can finally get togther with handshakes and hugs with all our friends. She noted there are some new, interesting elements to think about, such as… what do we need to see occur within the industry during the next two years!

Attendee questions with an accompany percentage as to overall interest was shown on screen.

Randy continued by asking that, in the middle of plenty of launch events and with rideshare becoming the norm, how do you panelists see this as changing the way the industry thinks about satellite development and launch and how are launch dynamics changing? Randy noted that cost of launches is going down and it will be interesting to see how the many launch delays currently being experienced will change the economics. A challenge for firms that aggregate payloads for launches is to fill that purchased fairing with client payloads and that presents a totally different type of dynamics.

The moderator also opened the doorway to discussion with some thoughts regarding US Government policy and shifts over past year and how that has supported innovation and the interaction with the commercial space industry. She inquired, what are the most significant announcements and changes for the industry in this regard? She asked the panelists to talk about the space system industry at large, but the government sector cannot be ignored when as relationships are so crucially important to overall success.

Jeff Matthews said he’s been tracking launch dynamics for eight years and understands that the the ability to close a business case is subject to getting on-orbit in a short period of time. Ridesharing is an easy way to accomplish this goal, as well as reducing development costs. Rideshare opens a large aperture of options and enables a small satellite company to participate. He believes we’ll see more rideshare opportunities opening up, although he also said that some cannibalization will occur when small launchers designed specially for smallsat launches become operational. He added that his firm is looking at the future of Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California, where the base and western range are more supportive of downstream space apps as well as launch. There’s also a lot of room to innovate with ground systems. He commended the US government for thinking outside the box and is witnessing the controlled collision of technology across the government and commercial environs. VAFB will help sponsor and grow commercial actives in the region. The DoD will be able to access commercial capabilities. He doesn’t believe anything has slowed down during this COVID invasion. Over the past ten years, Deloitte has worked on AI, the cloud and how to accelerate sector use cases. Space plus Artificial Intelligence (AI) is in a massive transformative position.

Jeff continued that there is now more room for non-traditionals on the backend and there will be more contracts, more funding and more value to users. He also reported that in this morning (October 7, 2020), Momentus becames the latest space company to go public (see news.satnews.com/2020/10/07/momentus-monumental-merger-of-estimated-1-2-billion-to-become-public-with-stable-road-acquisition-corp/). Jeff stated that there has to be breakthroughs on architecture for mega-constellations and that “someone has to come up with a secret sauce.” He notes the successful emergence of business ops after emerge from bankruptcy as well as more space startups going public either directly or through a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPARC—see Investopedia’s explanation at www.investopedia.com/terms/s/spac.asp). Jeff believes there will be Continued growth and VC/PE investments in space and that, eventually, there will be success for space tourism and asteroid mining business endeavors. In regard to what has been most surprising to him over the past year, he related that one surprise was to Tom Cruise is going to participate in a movie that will be filmed on ISS. On a more realistic note, he was surprised at the amount of capital inflowing into the industry and the number of investors that are still looking over the next 12 months to invest. He was glad to hear about the Momentus move and was surprised this was happening during a global downturn and recession.

Janna Lewis stated that important strides are being made by the government with commercial companies, from 5G and remote sensing to cyber critical policies. She thinks the most significant changes will happen with acquisitions and the purchase of space systems, with organizational changes then occurring to support new policies and developments. Policy shifts are going to touch everyone and will influence how the government interacts with commercial space companies. Such changes are coming fast, and many want even faster action. New acquisition units within such organizations as the United States Space Force (USSF) are coming online and they will implement additional policies at a more rapid pace. This will lead to acceleration within the communications industry with new technologies and faster implementation of those technologies. She noted the government is now trying to help companies thru the “can be overwhelming” contract process. It’s a challenge to know there are resources out there.

When asked about other pivots or trends occurring over the past year, Ms. Lewis noted the inclusion of the commercial cloud and the addition of ground stations by major players, which will be incredibly influential and transformational as to how we are going to process information.

Jackie Schmoll stated she is closely aligned with what the government is doing. The Department of Defense (DoD) has really been given the authority to engage in government acquisitions — what will they do with it. She would like to see the government acquisition process engage and implement plans for commercial companies. During the last month, the Space Development Agency (SDA) stuck with their schedule and they haven’t skipped a beat — they awarded the Transport Layer contracts on-time in parity with their schedule (see www.sda.mil/transport/ for information regarding this constellation). The SDA has released another RFP for industry proposals for launch services. Such actions will bring more commercial entities into the government acquisition processes and that will produce more competition which will bring about innovation.

When queried about what she has seen over the past year of interest, Ms. Schmoll said she has witnessed resiliency and adaptability and across the supply chain and with partners. Opportunities now exist where, previously, a company could never talk to the government from a home office. The coronavirus has allowed her firm to break through some previous norms, in spite of some challenges. She has also seen where there might be gaps and companies must innovate and change just in case this viral invasion happens again or continues on creating havoc. COVID-19 wasn’t something that wasn’t on anyone’s radar and was difficult, initially, to figure out. Phased reopenings, travel bans, all must to adapt as to how we do business. These necessities may draw more people into the industry, as working remotely on technology has now become a necessity. We can be flexible and use tools we may not have previously used and considerations must be as to how all are going to come out of this crisis stronger than before.

As far as trends or pivots over the past year, she said that going from various cloud services with occasional use to actually using them constantly. She added there is so much AI and ML data these days and wonders how this information gets stored into the cloud without having to do a lot of processing. She’s also seeing that the government will actually be able to invest in various opportunities.

Randy said she was astonished by the number of companies seeking government contracts., saying, “This has become their oxygen for breathing. [The process is] Simpler than before, it’s still, for a startup company, fascinating that they are drinking from this fire hose.” She wanted to know more from the agencies as to what are the rules that now apply for export, government contracting,and cross border contracting. She’s never seen this kind of diversity before, nor the desire for startup satellite companies to go after a lot of these government funding mechanisms. A few years ago, it almost impossible to get government attention; however, today, it is a much different relationship with the government. She also said that congested spectrum will work itself out over the next year and will be an example of how companies can successfully work together.

Following the first session, the keynote for Day Two was presented by Dr. Jan Worner, the Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA).

Dr. Wörner started by stating this virus is changing us and all are afraid of getting the virus; however, this also brings new opportunities for the future — the “new normal” — accelerated transformation for digital transformation. He stated that with satellites, the pulse of Earth can be taken. He discussed the three different layers in Europe… the ERC (Sentinel), Aeolus and MetOp-C ESA satellites — the United Space in Europe.

Satellites operate in the environmental space as well as autonomous shipping, such as auto docking for ships. He noted that big data is used incorrectly as meaning much data, where actually he said big data means combining the data of several sources and bringing that together for a better understanding.

The second session of the day was “Space Force — Use of Commercial Satellite Services” and featured the moderator, Phil Carrai of Kratos — Space, Training and Cybersecurity Division with panelists Clare Grason of Headquarters United States Space Force, Ken Peterman of Viasat, Erik Daehler of Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Pete Hoene of SES Government Solutions (SES-GS).

Clare Grason reported that the creation of the United States Space Force (USSF) is massively important as to how we acquire, buy and deliver commercial SATCOM. She noted the USSF has a 100 different contracts that aren’t currently leveraging the organization’s collective buying power. There is a strategy underway now for strategic customers and partners and other stakeholders to modernize how we bring in commercial SATCOM capabilities on a best value trade off basis. That process is getting better and was implemented about 18 months ago and will continue to get better as more deals are cemented into place. The market innovations over the past five years have been pretty phenomenal and, currently, the second phase of LEO mania is underway and is garnering a lot of attention. There is excitement also in the other portions of the industry, as well. A sample of one of those innovations are flat panel terminals, now an expensive reality. She said those types of terminals offer ease of use and access to satellites and can easily roam between commercial and military systems, which dovetail directly into the ambitions of the USSF.

She said commercial SATCOM is also moving toward government acquisition and commercial technology will benefit the DoD. She stated that commercial SATCOM is not a commodity nd that there are distinguishing characteristics for the systems the USSF is interested in. Price is not the most important factor. By applying best value tradeoffs, the USSF can apply strengths to areas of offers and proposals that go beyond price. The government can incentivize or guide industry in writing proposals that really reflect the interest areas of the organization on the front end and on the back end and be able to distinguish what merits go to what strengths. Industry feedback is necessary for the USSF to understand what is needed in the marketplace.

Grason added that the USSF is happy to see the commercial market understand the importance of ground architecture and to not just focus on the space segment. Within the DoD, the intent is to buy end services and to stay out of the integration of those services as government many not be the most effective integrator. This is a market trend. Suppliers are working together to promote resiliency and interoperability.

Additionally, the USSF customers have always valued commercial SATCOM and customers are now turning to commercial SATCOM due to reliability and availability factors. Commercial SATCOM users aren’t subjected to an arduous decision process. Now under the umbrella of USSF, commercial SATCOM will be enhanced with certain security capabilities. Also, MILSATCOM will become more of a business. If certain aspects of MILSATCOM were monetized and had to choose where the dollars had to be placed, commercial SATCOM would be selected. Commercial SATCOM is being looked at to fill certain gaps, for a variety of purposes.

Pete Hoene said that the operator challenge when dealing with the government/military has been the Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) paradigm. That didn’t give the industry any incentive to participate. Looking at the number of different innovations, advantage should be taken of LEO and MEO. The companies upcoming MPOWER technology will be 10x more powerful than what is currently available. How do we have a MEO/LEO/GEo config that we can take advantage of? All kinds of enemies o there that would like to disrupt our services. What we can do is include comm SATCOM in the military enterprise architecture. Feaues not considered for comm satcom but now being brought into the play for gov acceptance. How to transition from WGS to comm systems is exciting and there’s about two years to get it right.

Pete also indicated that LEO is going to be really exciting and can achieve fiber-like latency via MEO. The warfighter can use apps and deploy them and reach back to the garrison to obtain that data. The combination will transform the way we consider how to use commercial SATCOM and the high throughput of 5000 beams per satellite. He added that as a commercial operator, his company has to make certain their networks are secure as well as spacecradft encryption and ground stations are protected as well as the net infrastructure. There are going to be increasing challenges ahead as enemmies will try to take networks down. Companies must have the ability to transition to another network or mitigate any attacks. The commercial industry is taking some big steps in regard to these challenges.

Ken Peterman noted that Viasat is building an entire structure as a major service and the firm is trying to evolve the acquisition process from invention to accepting, adopting and buying a service. When the DoD was the only one buying, there was congestion. Prices are going to come down and clients will pay for only the portions of the net they are using. The security attributes are far better with commercial firms than DoD-purpose built systems in the field today, so the DoD will benefit from private investment as the market transitions. He also added that sensor satellites can route their traffic up over GEO and get that data to where it needs to be located. LEO must wait to transmit that date until the satellite is over a ground station. The interconnection between these eco systems will be very powerful. Sensor satellites can route their traffic up over GEO and get to where it needs to be… LEO has to wait until they are over a ground station. The interconnection between these eco systems is very powerful.

Ken added there is a misconception regarding the selection of either, or… the move is toward providing a connectivity service that is delivered over a hybrid solution. Viasat provides connectivity on multiple networks simultaneously and the systems are complimentary… LEO systems are closer to the Earth and have lower latency but over blue water 85 percent of the time, LEO can’t be reallocated to other parts of the world. With GEO, there are satellites that have coverage over larger portions of the Earth. The best attributes of both can be offered that serve the application. Intelligent parsing of traffic enhances the customer service. In regard to cybersecurity, Ken relates that there are millions of individual users that push terabytes of data over the net and real time situational awareness of everything on a network is absolutely required. His company has been able to be predictive as to when a cyber event will occur in the private sector.

Erik Daehler said that really understanding the mission needs is of high value to customers. The drive to the lowest price solution extracted all of the value out of the satellite capabilities. Cross partnership are necessary between government, sponsors and communication partners for the implementation of advanced technologies. There will be great opportunity in next weave of space, from miniaturized computers, mesh networks and so on and layers will be integrated that were previously only present in stovepipes. When it comes to cybersecurity, extremely high walls are built that no one can get through. Nw strategies find the implementation of protected mechanisms that don’t look like the rest of the systems and those are walled off. The flip must be made from a defensive posture and then work from inside out. (Source: Satnews)

08 Oct 20. Day Three of Satellite Innovations 2020 Virtual — Impactful Sessions.

During the final day — Day Three — of Satellite Innovation 2020 Virtual, the first session was entitled Impacts of New Constellations.

Dr. Chris Boshuizen of DCVS – Data Collective — was the moderator for this session with panelists Marc Bell of PredaSAR Corporation, Cristi Damian of Advantech Wireless, John Serafini of HawkEye 360 and Erwin Hudson of Telesat.

The crux of this session was to look at emerging constellations that are being proposed that will offer broadband with much lower latency than GEO satellites. Analysts agree that the advent of these huge fleets of smallsats in non-geostationary orbits have the potential to change the paradigm for satellite communications and internet connectivity in particular.

From agriculture and mining to traffic observation, mapping and weather, advanced observation constellations are opening new opportunities to observe Earth in considerable detail. They also offer a range of solutions to meet the immediate needs of emergency responders, help in providing civil protection as well as aid in disaster recovery in harsh environments and remote locations.

Dr. Boshuizen opened by thanking the experienced individuals participating in the session. He said that there is certainly a ton of competition within the constellation environment and the questions were then posed to the panelists.

Marc Bell indicated that this influx is a result of a combination of reduced cost, a smaller available form factor and Wall Street embracing the constellation technology. He does not believe the LEO space is crowded and mentioned that LEO satellites don’t have a long lifetime and, five years from now, the landscape will look quite different. He related that the government needs to build standards and then allow the commercial companies to work with those requirements for effective solutions. When asked about recent bankruptcies, such as OneWeb and Vector Space, Marc said such would have made a bigger difference within the industry a year ago. He doesn’t believe these bankruptcies will have a chilling effect. He noted this shows you can’t overspend, such as on the OneWeb side, and Vector didn’t have a solid plan for entering the market. Rocket Lab has done a very good job and success is all about a good business plan and solid management. When discussing why space is so appealing, he noted that government is always talking about going to various planets — people like to dream and the space industry is turning dreams into reality — space is now within everyone’s grasp.

When discussing light reflectivity from satellites, Marc said that this is getting a lot of press and SpaceX is doing their best to mitigate it; however, he doesn’t think we’ll see a lot of light pollution. When it comes to satellite lifetimes, Marc indicated there will always be replacement costs to consider, and this is the cost of doing biz — it’s all about planning and should not be complicated. He believes that persistent, real time coverage of the planet, tracking oil slicks, wild fires and military conflicts, are all some of the capabilities that SATCOM can bring to the world. Imagine, he said, never losing a plane or ship, having 24 hour imaging through clouds as well as at night, all providing people with the raw data they need to thrive.

Erwin Hudson indicated he agreed that, from a telecom point of view, there’s a driving requirement for lower latency comms. However, enabling tech to manage communications effectively from LEO requires advanced networking, computer, control software, satellite, and manufacturing technology as well as affordable launch services are all are required. A number of these pieces have now come together — and that’s a big market motivator. There’s a lot of benefits with LEO for mobile backhaul, in particular — low cost, high capacity, available anywhere on Earth. His company is already demoing with partners on the viability of 5G backhaul via satellite and product can be delivered at price points not previously experienced.

Erwin continued by saying that a lot of effort goes into his firm’s satellites that possess four optical links, bi-direction data flow at 10 Gbps — they are actually optical mesh networks in the sky and add a lot of flexibility and robustness without reliance upon a single Earth station — LEO routes data to nearby Earth stations. He noted that link budgets are totally obsolete, almost irrelevant, and its more about capacity today. His company is building about 30 Earth stations which are an incredibly important part of the network. The network is totally integrated and the entire network operates as one, big, space cloud rather than different pieces trying to communicate with other pieces. Customers are demanding low latency communications. TCIP hates delays and, at some point, starts re-transmitting if network acknowledgements aren’t received. If 100 MB speed is needed, a truly responsive network is required and that can’t be done with GEO satellites with their latency of 1 second. To obtain really responsive networks, speed of under 150 ms is required.

Erwin mentioned his firm’s Constellation Network Operating System, which is the intelligence behind the network and is responsible to determine what is connecting to what and how data is routed. The technology is incredibly adaptive and offers intelligent computing capabilities. AI is the heart of the network. As far as satellite reflectivity is concerned, Erwin believes his firm’s satellites are minimizing reflective light. The higher up you are, the better. The physical shape of the angles of the satellites are designed so that light is reflected away from Earth. There are a lot of things that can be done to minimize satellite reflectivity.

His company expects their LEO constellation to assist customers in moves from GEO to LEO, but the GEO business is not going to go away. For example, broadcast is most effectively done from GEO, not LEO. Two-way communication that is not reliant on less than 100 MB speed will continue with GEO. As LEO becomes more mature, Erwin expects to see a lot of GEO capacity moving to LEO. From his company’s perspective, their focus is primarily on B2B. The cost of consumer grade LEO terminals is still a bit of a challenge. That cost will come down. Flat panel antennas are probably the biggest challenge in getting EO unit costs down. Erwin is a firm believer that the ability to provide comms, the ability to provide high speed internet in remote areas, the ability to connect cultures and nations, that is what makes the world a better and more peaceful place. If SATCOM is done correctly, that brings tremendous value to people and the world.

Cristi Damian added that the Arctic and Antarctic regions offer a great number of opportunities now and constellations provide the ability to provide communications from anywhere to anywhere. They are serious market disruptors. He added that ground structure technology for LEO in telemetry control and infrastructure is needed and discussed igh data rates and high mobilization requirements. He stated that even the link budgets that the firm has been using for many years are no longer useful. 5G is will be moving through the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) because, in order to be effective, AI technology is needed to determine the best way to move that traffic to and from various destinations and to also avoid data obstruction. He believes LEO will play a formidable role with 5G and will then prove its real value with 5G backhaul. There are two distinct models for LEO: backhaul and delivering data or going direct to the consumer.

When discussing 5G, he said that 5G doesn’t work without precision and timing and he intimated that the government may well create its own, private, 5G network. One reason for such might occur is that GPS is easily jammed today and networks are quite exposed. He believes we need to develop positioning and timing and become 5G players and LEO can open this market to commercial companies. Technology needs to be developed to enable this to occur, developments that were probably never initially considered. If 5G is embracing AI for proper traffic management, with LEO’s thousands of sats, he doesn’t see how they can operate without some form of advanced intelligence. The big question is… who is going to take care of AI? Traffic management will be crucial and must be seriously considered.

When talking about ground systems, Cristi said that with new constellations forthcoming, and much higher data rates, the ground segment needs a lot of innovation and there’s plenty of space for inclusion by companies who wish to develop solutions for this market segment. Care must be taken not to make the same mistakes that were made in the 90s. Going back in time, the cost of the technology was too expensive and bulky and difficult to use, plus the world was not ready to for the market. That’s different now. The cost for user terminals and so on must be brought down. He also noted satellites need Space Situational Awareness (SSA). Collision avoidance systems should be applied to satellites so they can detect debris and also avoid one another on-orbit. SSA is a hot topic with the USAF as well as many commercial companies. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) can be used to map out debris in real time and determine what and when satellites need to be moved to avoid impacts. He added from a Canadian perspective, the maritime traffic that’s heading into Arctic, for the most part, don’t know what they’re doing and LEO can solve some of those problems.

John Serafini noted that some of the new products out there that aren’t necessarily in the public interest. Most constellations that are going up are financed by private capital. Even the best companies need financing, and B and C rounds are being raised to build constellations at a rapid rate. The government taking an aggressive position and it is not difficult for a startup company to find work with government. What is difficult is getting out of that initial startup stage. John noted that the government is doing a great job sprinkling contracts to small companies. He believes the government will pick the winners and then go long and deep with those companies and will help them scale their operations. John mentioned that its all about getting his firm’s data down to the ground, then processed and packaged to the customer. Whenever infrastructure can be built to support advanced capabilities, such will be great for his company.

John said there’s plenty of capital “out there”. He thinks there will be significant institutional investments into Earth Observation (EO) and SAR and RF. Some investment companies will hold off financing other tech until they see how the big candidates do with the capital they’ve already raised. He believes the best companies sell themselves as privileged, data acquisition firms. To investors, space is interesting because the successful companies are selling to the government, which is recession proof, and institutional investors want growth, want to fund viable technology and have a hedge when getting into space. Only so many assets can be deployed, so care is taken in selecting which firms to fund. The winner will be the company that brings together the different modalities to accommodate customers. John closed by saying bad things happen in dark domains — the more light and forecasting of human behavior and intent that can be obtained, such an offset human trafficking and hostilities, and SATCOM provides those capabilities now and even more so in the future.

Steve Jurvetson of Future Ventures offered the keynote address for Day 3 and he showed his office — virtually — of his office which he has turned into a space museum.

He said space is exciting and then delved into the history of SpaceX and Planet Labs, who are early leaders within this industry. He offered some general lessons about how these two companies succeeded and then close with a look into the future. What may seem to have been a fantasy regarding space in the past, well, they are now reality. Humankind is becoming a multi-planetary species. Students and software people entering the industry these days can take their big and bold dreams, their economic spirit and activity, and being driven by entrepreneurs (as usual) can change this and other worlds, as well.

The session entitled Cyber Security Concerns featured Tom Stroup of the Satellite Industry Association (SIA) as the moderator with panel participants Dr. Gregory Falco of Orbital Security Space, Venky Anant of McKinsey-Silicon Valley, Karl Fuchs of iDirect Government, and David Mitlyng of SpeQtral.

Dr. Falco started off by stating that systems that have been up in space for some time but they are not protectable for the most part. He believes resilience and recovery are separate entities. Attacks will occur and systems will be under adversarial assault and companies should always be thinking about recovery all of the time. Can’t always have a backup on a desk and simply plug that data back into a satellite. Using cloud security technologies makes an attempted attack far more challenging. With the cloud, there is a better capability to swap out virtual machines. There is a higher point of touch and a move toward virtualized population of data. Stress testing is also crucial.

Gregory noted the potential for cloud services. The cloud extends access; however, with greater access comes greater responsibility. Significant dangers and threats are present and most in the industry do not have a good understanding of them yet. The tech community sidestepped the government market when great opportunity was present for solution presentations and they still don’t understood all off the cyber security risks that need addressing. When asked about anti-jam software defined transmitters, Dr. Falco said that probably such will eventually be implemented, but we’re not really sure how to do anti-jamming right now. There some good concepts that need exploring that will help to obtain a better understanding. The USAF is exploring these problems as well as academic researchers but it’s too early to know exactly what it will take to fix anti-jamming — redundancy needs to be solved first.

Dr. Falco indicated, when asked whether LEO sats are considered more secure, that the jury is still out. Geo based satellites haven’t had good vetting on the data yet, so lets have some more conversations about what’s going on under the hood.

Karl Fuchs, after stating his firm serves the US Government market, acknowledged that an adversary could win a battle as there a a large number of vulnerabilities in today’s systems that are not found in the terrestrial counterparts. Adversaries can take advantage of anomalies and this is a real vulnerability for the military. Because we are so focused on satellite, there must be thought given to other attack vectors that exist. Cyber security has to have at a much larger approach, not just concern about system hacking. Improvements must be continually made to cyber security as adversaries are becoming more and more adept and there are more and more jam threats. The value of improving cyber security is… the difference between life and death. Karl relayed that resiliency is absolutely a major concern for the US military. There are any number of threats out there from hackers who want to jam to a near peer adversary. Mitigations must be in place that allow end users to overcome such attacks. New technology must bring resiliency to the defense nets, especially to vercome jamming threats and to provide redundancy and resiliency when dealing with sophisticated rappers or near pear adversaries that could actually take out a satellite.

He reported that he has a different perspective as his company primarily serves the military. When you look at U.S. military satellites, they have closed networks in their own satellites and the nodes on their IP networks are highly secured. Karl said the cloud opens up unparalleled access to data and that will increase security issues. The US Government will have their own, private-type cloud. As far as anti-jam software defined transmitters, he indicated there are two broad categories. Signal excision anti-jam does not require any additional needed software or firmware to define receivers and those technologies are currently available with FPDA core. The second technology, spread signal, requires a lot of bandwidth and signal excision becomes more and more important. When it comes to LEO security, Karl indicated that, inherently, LEOs are a bit more secure than GEOs, and that has to do with ground coverage. LEO is a brand new world and we’ll be learning a lot more as time goes on. The biggest concern that is playing a bigger and bigger role, and one that has increased over a decade and half, is the reliance on GPS and so on. People are becoming more sophisticated, computational power increasing and it’s not that difficult for someone to disrupt a GPS signal. Already devices are receiving false GPS signals — the proper security must be behind the technology and that these signals cannot be jammed and ensure that the timing signals being received are actually coming from the GPS satellite.

David Mitlyng indicated that New Space is the reason for increasing cyber security solutions to overcome the numerous concerns. Jamming issues have been evident with commercial satellites for a long time and new satellite companies coming online are doing very little to secure their platforms. Satellites can be hijacked, valuable data accessed and intercepted from Earth Observation (EO) satellites, and these invasions are starting to become a far bigger concern. As far as recovery plans are concerned once a system has been assaulted, the commercial sector already has some of those plans and safeguards in place. Certainly, such are not as robust as they should be within the LEO community and a lot of work needs to be done. A hijacked LEO sat could be re-maneuvered, used as an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon, and that needs to be prevented.

David ventured that LEO collecting data is a bit more secure and offers more of a real time data downlink. Information is fresh and an adversary would have target ground stations. Data relay thru GEO is more secure, but more links area added and the design is well implemented.

Venky Anant said it’s a matter of when an attack will occur, not if. Hackers are sophisticated and there’s a lot of stuff out there that is obsolete and easily accessible. Sophistication of hackers and lot of stuff out there is obsolete and easily accessible. There is a limited amount of time to think about protection when the hack is going on — how does the communications team respond to the attack and what is the inline response. There are better protection measures around and proper planning is crucial. There is lots of great potential in the cloud, but it will take time to mature. As far as the viability of the cloud, there’s a lot of large financial companies taht have their systems in the cloud. Misconfigurations will always happen, but he is positive on the cloud and there is much opportunity there for development. Regarding LEO security, he said it’s too early to tell and the case has not been well documented or presented at this time and there’s so much happening right now so it is difficult to comment on this subject.

Satellite Innovation 2020 Virtual has now closed its doors and the amount of usable and informative subject-matter expertise that attendees garnered bordered on the amazing. For 732 registered attendees, the sessions were a treasure trove of insightful knowledge. We thank all who gave their time in presenting their know-how to attendees and to the attendees themselves for supporting the Satnews Publishers’ efforts in presenting and managing this event.

We hope to see all in March of 2021 for the SmallSat Symposium and then again next fall for the next iteration of Satellite Innovation. (Source: Satnews)


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