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23 Jan 20. The US will launch its next spy satellite from New Zealand. The National Reconnaissance Office’s first satellite launch of 2020 will take place in New Zealand, with the agency taking advantage of a new contract vehicle designed to leverage growing commercial small satellite launch capabilities.
Rocket Lab, a Los Angeles-based company, announced Jan. 20 it had been selected by the NRO to launch the agency’s first satellite of 2020—NROL-151.
The NRO is the agency charged with acquiring and operating the United States’ intelligence satellites. As with most of its satellites, the NRO has not provided substantial details on NROL-151’s capabilities or purpose. It does, however, have a mission name: “Birds of a Feather.”
This launch is the first the NRO has awarded through the Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR) contract vehicle, an acquisition method the agency adopted in 2018 to leverage commercial small satellite launch capabilities.
“(RASR) enables our exploration of new launch opportunities by providing a streamlined, commercial approach for launching (small satellites),” the agency wrote in a Jan. 20 Twitter thread. “Under this approach, RASR helps us pursue the use of both large & small satellites to create an integrated architecture that provides global coverage to answer a wide range of intelligence questions.”
Rocket Lab will use its Electron reusable rocket for the launch. Following a separate but successful mission in December, Rocket Lab will attempt a guided reentry of the first stage through the Earth’s atmosphere. The company has launched 47 small satellites aboard the Electron since the New Zealand launch site first began operating in Jan. 2018.
New Zealand is a Five Eyes country—one that has increased its space collaboration with the United States in recent months. On Twitter, the NRO stated it was looking forward to continued collaboration with New Zealand on the NROL-151 mission. (Source: Defense News)
23 Jan 20. Iran plans to launch new Earth observation satellite. Iran is planning to launch its latest satellite, designed for Earth observation. The country’s official news agency, IRNA, reported that the indigenous Zafar satellite had been delivered to the Iran Space Agency (ISA) for launch.
“The satellite will be put into orbit in the next three months,” Xinhua News Agency quoted Jabbar Ali Zakeri, an official of Iran University of Science and Technology, which designed Zafar.
This is a 90-kilogram remote-sensing satellite equipped with colour cameras.
Morteza Barari, head of the ISA and Deputy Minister of Iran’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT), said Zafar could be used for surveying oil reserves, mines, jungles and natural disasters.
The satellite can move in circular orbit and send a message during its exploratory missions, added Barari, who also heads the ISA.
If the launch proves successful, Zafar will orbit the Earth for 18 months at an altitude of 530 kilometres.
Iran possesses an active space program and was one of the 24 founding members of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, which was set up in 1958.
Iran’s space agency was founded in 2004 and among its ambitions is to place humans in orbit and even on the moon.
Its first satellite was launched in 2005 aboard a Russian rocket, making Iran the 43rd country to operate its own satellite. Iran has developed its own launch vehicles, capable of placing a satellite into orbit.
Among its achievements is launching monkeys into space and successfully recovering them.
However, Iran’s rockets could also be used for an offensive missile capability, which the US and Israel believe could eventually be used to deliver atomic warheads.
A report, compiled by the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and released last year, said for the US, the greatest concern was Iran’s development of rockets that could form the basis of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBNs).
The report said DIA believed that Iran’s space launch vehicles (SLVs – rockets capable of placing satellites in orbit) could serve as a testbed for the development of ICBM technologies.
DIA said Iran initially developed SLVs as an extension of its ballistic missile program but had genuine civilian and military space launch goals.
It wasn’t that impressed with Iran’s overall space capability.
“Tehran claims to have developed sophisticated capabilities, including SLVs and communications and remote sensing satellites. Iran’s simple SLVs are only able to launch microsatellites into low-Earth orbit and have proven unreliable with few successful satellite launches,” the report said. (Source: Space Connect)
23 Jan 20. Capella Space unveils advanced satellite design to deliver high-res Earth observation data. Capella Space, an information services company that provides Earth observation data on demand, has unveiled its evolved satellite design to enable on-demand observations of anywhere on Earth. Informed by extensive customer feedback and findings from the launch of Denali, Capella’s testbed satellite, the re-engineered design features a suite of technological innovations to deliver timely, flexible and frequent sub-0.5-metre very high quality images to the market.
The enhanced technology package will deliver the most advanced offering for small satellite SAR imagery on the market.
Christian Lenz, vice president of engineering at Capella Space, said, “Our customers have spoken: today’s industry standard of waiting eight hours to receive data is woefully outdated. They want access to imagery that is reliable, timely and, most importantly, high-quality.”
The satellite evolution is a direct result of customer feedback, extensive on-orbit testing with Capella’s first testbed satellite Denali, as well as ground-based testing. Enhancements include:
- Advanced design delivering high contrast, low-noise, sub-0.5-metre imagery: A 3.5-metre deployed mesh-based reflector antenna combined with a high power radar enable key performance improvements, including quality advances.
- Extended duty cycle: A deployed 400-watt solar array increases on-orbit duty cycle to 10 minutes per orbit.
- Continuous imaging over long distance: Advanced thermal management systems allow continuous imaging of up to 4,000-kilometre-long strip images.
- Highly agile platform: Enabled by large reaction wheels, the new satellite quickly adjusts pointing to collect images from diverse targets.
- Staring spotlight image mode: New mode further enhances image quality with the ability to collect the highest commercially available multi-look data.
- Enhanced data downlink rate: A high average data rate downlink of 1.2 Gbps supports the massive image collection rate and extended duty cycle, providing more data per orbit than any other commercial SAR system in its class.
- Real-time tasking: A highly secure encrypted two-way link with Inmarsat through an exclusive partnership with add value provides real-time tasking capability for the entire Capella constellation.
“The innovations packed into our small satellite make Capella the first and only SAR provider to provide real-time tasking and capture of sub-0.5-metre very high-quality imagery anywhere on Earth at any time. This is a game-changer for a variety of industries – from monitoring military threats to assessing crop yields in agriculture to coordinating disaster response,” Lenz said.
The new satellite design cemented major deals with multiple divisions of the US government, including a contract with the US Air Force and National Reconnaissance Office.
The technological enhancements will be embedded in Capella’s next six commercial satellites, named the “Whitney” constellation, starting with the launch of Sequoia slated for March of 2020. The Sequoia satellite is currently completing system level tests and will arrive at the launch site in early March. Capella is also licensed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for its 36 small satellite constellation, along with approval to sell the highest resolution legally allowed SAR commercial imagery to customers globally. (Source: Space Connect)
23 Jan 20. European finance collaboration to boost bloc space sector with €200m finance. The European Commission is partnering with the European Investment Bank Group, announcing €200m of investments into the EU space sector to support ground-breaking innovation in the industry.
During the European Space Policy Conference in Brussels, EIB vice-president Ambroise Fayolle has signed an agreement with André-Hubert Roussel, CEO of ArianeGroup, confirming a €100m ($161.8m) loan for the new Ariane 6 launcher program.
The deal is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the financial pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe, and InnovFin Risk Sharing for Corporate Research backed by Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.
In addition, the commission and the EIF have jointly announced the first ever EU-backed InnovFin Space Equity Pilot and the first space-focused tech fund supported under the pilot in Europe.
Ariane 6 is the new European heavy launcher developed in the framework of a large European Space Agency (ESA) multi-annual programme for a new European family of space launchers to respond to the latest trends in the satellite market while significantly lowering production costs.
The new generation heavy-launcher maintains the EU’s independent access to space, aligned with the ambition to develop crucial knowledge for the European space industry.
EU Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said, “The two announcements of today represent a game changer for Europe in the support of the European space industry. First, I strongly welcome the loan granted by the EIB for the Ariane 6 project, which is at the core of the objective to guarantee a European autonomous access to space.”
Ariane 6 will continue to enable Europe to deliver its launch activities for missions to all orbits, from geostationary satellites to medium- and low-Earth orbit missions and address market dynamics for large satellites, satellite constellations and the smaller satellite segment.
André Hubert Roussel, CEO of ArianeGroup, reinforced these comments, stating, “This €100 m loan will partly finance ArianeGroup investments in Ariane 6 development, meaning more competitive, environmentally friendly industrial facilities in Germany and France, including French Guiana.”
The €100 m financing will partially support ArianeGroup’s share of development costs through an innovative financing structure, which will be contingent on Ariane 6’s commercial success, once operational.
“Through this innovative financing, EIB, with the support of the European Union through the European Fund for Strategic Investment, and InnovFin Risk Sharing for Corporate Research, contributes to our industrial investments in our new competitive, versatile and modular Ariane 6 launcher,” Roussel added.
Supporting European SMEs
The InnovFin Space Equity Pilot is a €100m program under InnovFin specifically dedicated to support the innovation and growth of European SMEs operating in the sector of space technologies.
The program will invest in venture capital funds across the EU that support companies commercialising new products and services in the space sector.
Primo Space, an Italian early-stage tech investor, is the first fund selected by the EIF under this pilot. With a target size of €80m ($129.5m), it will be among the first tech transfer funds only focused on space-related technologies in Europe and the first one in Italy.
It will invest at proof-of-concept, seed and other early stages projects or companies and will foster the commercialisation of breakthrough innovations in the space technologies in Italy and Europe.
The European space economy is already valued €50bn (as of 2019) ($80.9bn) and the research in aerospace technologies is one of the priority areas covered by the Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges of Horizon 2020.
“Second, with the InnovFin Space, we are sending a clear signal that space business in Europe is an attractive opportunity. This is a crucial initiative to support the development of European space start-ups so they can scale up,” Breton added.
The announcements follow recent new ventures for the EIB Group with key players in the space sector.
Last year, the EIB and the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA) signed an agreement to co-operate on supporting investment in the European space-based service economy.
The common objective was to create high-skill jobs in the EU and improve the day-to-day lives of Europeans by supporting innovative companies and accelerating the development of new applications that use European global navigation satellite systems and Earth observation data.
Fayolle said, “Initiatives like EFSI or InnovFin help us to develop relevant financing solutions for the European space industry. They allow us to provide debt financing for a large multiannual program to develop a new family of European space launchers by ArianeGroup with improved technical flexibility and modularity to respond to the latest trends in the satellite market.”
According to a recent EIB and European Commission study on the future of the European space sector, European space entrepreneurs feel there is a lack of private financing sources. They therefore tend to turn to private capital outside the EU, especially in the US.
This was reinforced by EIF chief executive Alain Godard, who said, “Space is an important driver of innovation in Europe. The investments in the space sector we signed today show how public funds in the EU can be deployed to attract private investment and catalyse the development of the sector.”
A new EU space program to start in 2021 foresees dedicated measures and additional funding to support an innovative and competitive EU space sector, including to boost entrepreneurship from early stage to scaling-up. The EU space programme regulation is currently under negotiation by the European Parliament and Council of the EU. (Source: Space Connect)
21 Jan 20. EU leaders try to stir up space business, but funding is at risk. European Commission vice president Margrethe Vestager has made an impassioned plea for Europe’s space program to be properly funded.
In a keynote speech at the 12th European Space Conference here, the Danish official said, “We have to make sure that money is there to support work on new ideas and new technologies – technologies in space, but also new products or services that make use of satellite data.”
“That’s why it’s enormously important that the EU’s next seven-year budget makes the money available that we need for new investments, including the space program.”
Her comments come after Finland proposed deeper cuts to EU spending to try to break a stalemate over the bloc’s long-term budget plans, the seven-year multiannual financial framework (MFF). Finland, which held the EU’s rotating presidency until Jan. 1, is suggesting a budget of 1.07 percent of gross national income in the EU, or €1.087trn, over between 2021 and 2027. That is less than the figure proposed by the European Commission, which had asked for 1.11 percent, or that of the European Parliament, which asked for 1.3 percent.
Vestager, speaking on the first day of the two-day conference, said Europe has “some of the world’s very best and most competitive satellite makers” which already account for one-third of the world markets, and is home to leading satellite communication companies.
“This decade of new and valuable uses of space technology and data can be – and should be – a European decade,” declared the official.
She also argued that it is impossible to make the most of Europe’s space and space defense industry without proper funding, adding that “we have to make sure we give Europe’s space industry the attention and support it needs.”
She told a packed audience of defense experts, EU officials and others, “Part of that, of course, will be about money.”
This means, she noted, continuing to develop and improve Europe’s space infrastructure, like Copernicus, an Earth observation program, and the Galileo satellite navigation system.
“There are a whole lot of ways that we can get more for our money, by making use of the links between defense and space industry. Not, of course, by militarizing space but by recognizing that these industries share many challenges and their needs, when it comes to tackling those issues, are very similar,” Vestager said.
Her comments were echoed by Philippe Goffin, Belgium’s foreign affairs and defense minister, who warned that Europe risks “lagging behind” the U.S, India and other “rivals” unless it invests more heavily in the space industry.
Meanwhile, the conference heard that the European Commission, in partnership with the European Investment Bank, plans to invest some €200m into the EU space sector to support “ground-breaking innovation” in the industry.
The EIB and ArianeGroup on Tuesday signed an agreement to confirm a €100m contingent loan for the new Ariane 6 launcher program.
The Commission and the European Investment Fund (EIF) also announced the first-ever, EU-backed InnovFin Space Equity Pilot, a €100m program dedicated to support innovation and growth of European small and mid-sized companies operating in space technologies.
Thierry Breton, the European commissioner for the bloc’s internal market, added, “The two announcements of today represent a game changer for Europe in the support of the European space industry. We are sending a clear signal that space business in Europe is an attractive opportunity. This is a crucial initiative to support the development of European space start-ups so they can scale up.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
22 Jan 20. Next Rocket Lab mission to be dedicated launch for US NRO. That will be the company’s first mission for 2020. Rocket Lab has always chosen offbeat names for its launches and this one will be called Birds of a Feather. It is scheduled to blast off from the Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s north island with the launch window opening on 31 January.
Rocket Lab has been moving towards recovering its Electron rocket first stages for reuse to reduce costs and speed up launch tempo. Although that won’t be attempted for this launch, the company will to guide the first stage as it returns.
It will splash down in the Pacific ocean and won’t be recovered.
The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) develops and launches the US intelligence satellites. Consequently nothing has been revealed about the satellite to be launched on Birds of a Feather.
SpaceNews said this was NRO’s first launch awarded under a program launched in 2018 to use commercial providers to launch small satellites.
That’s called Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR), created to take advantage of emerging services offered by commercial small launch providers.
Lars Hoffman, Rocket Lab senior vice president for global launch services, said Rocket Lab’s Electron vehicle was uniquely placed to deliver the kind of frequent, rapidly-acquired launch opportunities required by the NRO and other government agencies to ensure resiliency in space.
“We are honoured the NRO has selected Rocket Lab as the launch provider for this dedicated mission,” he said.
“The Electron launch vehicle is perfectly positioned to provide the kind of rapid and responsive access to space that puts the NRO in complete control over their own launch schedule and orbital requirements.
“As the industry shifts toward the disaggregation of large, geostationary spacecraft, Electron enables unprecedented access to space to support a resilient layer of government small satellite infrastructure.”
This will be the 10th launch since Rocket Lab conducted its first test launch from New Zealand in May 2017 and its first commercial launch in January 2018.
So far the company has placed 47 satellites in orbit.
The next big development will be the first launch from the company’s new launch facility in the US, expected in second quarter this year. (Source: Space Connect)
22 Jan 20. Japan stands up ‘space force’ equivalent as space race heats up. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has confirmed the launch of a $567.6m Space Domain Mission Unit to respond to the threats to Japan’s space assets, including military and civilian satellites and related space infrastructure, following the lead of the US. The Space Domain Mission Unit will operate as part of the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force, standing up in 2022.
Prime Minister Abe said the new unit will work closely with its US counterpart, the US Space Force, recently launched by President Donald Trump.
“We will drastically bolster capability and system in order to secure superiority” in those areas, he said in a speech at the opening of the 2020 parliamentary session.
The Space Domain Mission Unit will be formed at Fuchu Air Base with a staff of around 20 before the full launch in 2022.
Its role appears to be similar to other new western space defence units, protect existing national space assets, maintain space situational awareness and co-ordinate with kindred ally organisations.
That already appears to be happening. The US routinely mentions its ongoing military space co-operation with its Five Eyes partners, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and ally partners including France, Germany and Japan.
In December, Prime Minister Abe’s cabinet announced a 50.6bn yen budget for space-related projects, pending parliamentary approval.
PM Abe has long cherished a vision to revise the country’s avowedly pacifist constitution, drafted by the US after World War II.
That imposes strict limits on foreign deployment of Japanese forces, appropriate after WW2 but less so now as Japan seeks to play a greater role in world affairs and the US calls on allies to contribute more.
PM Abe’s speech coincided with the 60th anniversary of the US-Japan treaty, the basis for the defence alliance, signed by his grandfather prime minister Nobusuke Kishi in Washington on 19 January 1960.
That treaty allows the US to station troops and equipment in Japan and in return the US undertakes to protect against attack.
“We have elevated the relationship to one in which each of us, the US and Japan, protects the other, thereby giving further force to the alliance,” PM Abe said in his speech.
“Going forward, it is incumbent upon us to make it even more robust, to make it a pillar for safeguarding peace and security in both outer space and cyber space.”
That will eventually comprise around 16,000 personnel, most from the USAF and mostly drawn from the US Space Command, to be the Space Force’s operational component. (Source: Space Connect)
21 Jan 20. Pentagon Wants to Build One Satellite Per Week. Over the next two years, the Space Development Agency is looking to put dozens of satellites into orbit.
One satellite per week. That’s what the Pentagon wants industry to provide under its plans to orbit seven new constellations — each with a different function — by the end of 2020.
The satellites would be smaller (“a few hundred kilograms”), cheaper (about $10m each), and shorter-lived (about five years) than today’s typical military satellites, which can weigh tons and consume billions of dollars but which are expected to operate for decades.
“We are talking [about] technology that is available to fly within 18 to 24 months,” Derek Tournear, director of the Space Development Agency, said during a Tuesday briefing at the Pentagon.
Dubbed the National Defense Space Architecture, the program is the first big initiative of Tournear’s brand-new agency. It aims to orbit “several dozen satellites” through 2022, and then keep going, launching dozens of additional satellites every two years, he said.
The initial NDSA satellites would improve the military’s ability to detect and strike objects like surface-to-air missile launchers. Others would detect and track hypersonic missiles, and pass the data to earthbound missile interceptors.
“In [fiscal 2026], we’ll have full global coverage,” he said.
The Space Development Agency Tuesday announced seven of the new constellations it plans to build. These include:
- Transport: reliable communications between U.S. forces around the world.
- Battle Management: to provide command and control.
- Tracking: to find and track enemy missiles, including hypersonic ones.
- Custody: to keep tabs on enemy ground launchers and other mobile targets.
- Navigation: to augment or replace GPS.
- Deterrence: to deter hostile action in “deep space” — i.e., from geosynchronous Earth orbit to the moon.
- Support: to connect ground-based satellite systems, including launchers.
The Pentagon said it would begin soliciting bids for the first of the new satellites in the “late spring.” and award contracts in the summer.
Tournear said he’s looking for “companies that are going to give us a good solution that we can believe their cost and schedule metrics. I’m open to any and all proposers.”
The creation of the Space Development Agency, which is currently part of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, has been controversial. Air Force leaders have questioned its necessity. The U.S. Space Force, which is part of the Air Force, is expected to assume oversight of the Space Development Agency in late 2022. (Source: Defense One)
21 Jan 20. The UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is partnering with the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) on a joint mission to launch miniature sensors that will advance Space weather measurement and modelling capabilities. The Coordinated Ionospheric Reconstruction Cubesat Experiment (CIRCE) comprises two 6U cube-satellites that will be launched into a near-polar low earth orbit (500km altitude) this year. Each 6U satellite bus, measures 10cm x 20cm x 30cm, and will fly almost identical instrument capability on both satellites.
The UK contribution to CIRCE is the Insitu and Remote Ionospheric Sensing (IRIS) suite, complementary to NRL sensors and comprising three highly miniaturised payloads developed for Dstl by University College London (UCL), University of Bath, and University of Surrey/Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL). CIRCE will characterise a region of the Space environment, the ionosphere, which is important for a range of defence and civil applications and can impact GPS, communications and sensing technology.
All three IRIS payloads occupy a small volume no more than 10 cm x 10cm x 20cm – you can hold IRIS in one hand. Miniaturisation of Space weather sensors means that a significant capability is packed into each satellite provided by Blue Canyon Technologies. This type of miniaturisation could pave the way for deployment of many more such sensors as a routine inclusion on other satellites thanks to their small size, weight and power. The result would expand data collection for the near-Earth Space environment, and enhance space weather modelling capabilities.
Dr. Nick Joad, Director Defence Science and Technology, said:
“The CIRCE mission is great example of UK/US collaboration in Space. The concept to develop UK Space weather diagnostic capability supports our strategic relationship with the USA, and Dstl has recently delivered two flight models – totalling six miniaturised UK payloads – in just one year. Our UK partners from academia and industry are recognised world-leaders in the field of Space weather research, enabling us to rapidly design, build, and successfully test these tiny payloads.”
Dstl’s Space Programme Manager, Mike O’Callaghan, talks about the project here: https://youtu.be/UFAGnK346Gs
21 Jan 20. With this upgrade, these aircraft will have anti-jamming comms. The Air Force awarded Raytheon a $442m contract Jan. 16 to develop new technology that will allow the B-52 and RC-130 aircraft to utilize the nation’s advanced anti-jamming communications satellites.
The contract is part of the Family of Advanced Beyond Line-of-Sight Terminals (FAB-T) program, an effort to replace legacy communication terminals with secure, nuclear-survivable terminals capable of utilizing the nation’s most secure communications satellites for protected communications — including Presidential and National Voice Conferencing — and nuclear command and control. In 2015, the Department of Defense divided the FAB-T program into two segments: the Command Post Terminals (CPT) subprogram, which will provide terminals for ground posts and E-4 and E6 aircraft, and the Force Element Terminal (FET) subprogram, which will place new terminals in B-52 and RC-135 aircraft.
The $442,265,464 cost-plus-incentive-fee undefinitized contract will provide for the latter, with Raytheon designing, developing, testing, integrating and providing logistical support for force element terminals for the two aircraft.
Once in place, the terminals will allow airmen within those aircraft to utilize a trio of highly advanced satellites: the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellites, the Enhanced Polar System satellites, and the legacy Milstar satellites. The FAB-T terminals will also allow command and control of those three constellations.
According to the Government Accountability Office, the force element terminals are essential to the FAB-T program — without them, the program “cannot achieve its planned capabilities that are based on the interaction of bomber aircraft with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft and CPTs.” The GAO also reports that due to delays in the FAB-T program, all six AEHF satellites are expected to be on orbit before the system is in place, resulting in an underutilization of costly satellite capabilities.
The same day, The FAB-T contracting office award Raytheon a $36,848,806 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification to develop a software encryption platform for the system approved by the National Security Administration. Work is expected to be completed by March 2023.
The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center also issued a Request for Information Jan. 15 seeking industry sources that can support the installation of the FAB-T Command Post Terminals worldwide. According to a May 2019 Government Accountability Office report, the CPT subprogram is expected to reach initial operating capability in June 2021 and full operational capability by March 2023. Raytheon is also the primary contractor for the CPT subprogram. Responses to that RFI are due Jan. 22. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
21 Jan 20. Orbit Develops Multi-Role 12-inch Ka-Band Airborne Terminal for Inmarsat. Orbit Communication Systems Ltd., a global provider of airborne communications and satellite-tracking maritime and ground-station solutions, and Inmarsat, a global, mobile satellite communications company, have announced the development of an innovative new Ka-band multi-purpose airborne terminal. The compact Multi-Purpose Terminal (MPT) 30WGX, featuring a 30-cm (12”) antenna, will be able to deliver high-throughput wideband communications via the Inmarsat Global Xpress worldwide network for a broad range of airborne platforms. Built to fulfill “anytime, anywhere” connectivity requirements, the lightweight, small-footprint terminal combines high performance with Orbit’s industry-leading reliability to address new opportunities in military aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Following certification, volume production of the terminal is planned for Orbit’s US-based facilities.
Orbit’s MPT 30WGX terminal complements its 46-cm (18”) MPT 46WGX terminal, which will shortly enter full-scale production. Once certified, it will be similarly optimized for use with Inmarsat’s Global Xpress system and will be interoperable with military Ka-band services, affording unique capabilities and flexibility.
“We are very pleased to continue partnering with Inmarsat to develop innovative new airborne capabilities,” noted Stav Gizunterman, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Orbit. “The new terminal, which complements our MPT 46WGX, will help open up service offerings to an expanded range of aircraft.”
“Inmarsat is pleased to be working with Orbit to introduce innovative and forward-looking satellite solutions that support today’s complex missions,” said Steve Gizinski, Chief Technology Officer, Inmarsat Government. “Orbit’s innovation and expansion of their MPT terminal line ensure that airborne users will have access to reliable wideband mobility for increased agility and worldwide portability.” (Source: UAS VISION)
06 Jan 20. Israel plans to build their own communication satellites. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) was awarded a contract to develop and build “Dror 1”. Dror 1 is intended to meet the satellite communication needs of Israel for the next 15 years. Planned capabilities are an advanced digital communication payload and “smartphone in space” capabilities, to provide communication agility throughout the satellite’s lifetime in space.
The agreement signed between the Israeli government and IAI represents the initiation of the government’s decision to promote a long-term strategy for Israeli satellite communications from September 2018. This stems from the understanding that the capability for communication independence is of critical national importance, as well as to enable the preservation of the knowledge and expertise that has been accumulated by Israel over the past years.
The new satellite will be developed by IAI’s Systems, Missile, and Space Group which is dedicated to developing and building air defense systems, such as the Barak MX, the Arrow 2 and 3 weapon system, advanced observation satellites, nano-satellites, satellite launchers, as well as the Beresheet lunar lander, which reached the moon in 2019. IAI is the national hub of expertise for radars, satellites, UAVs, civil aviation, and cyber. (Source: ESD)
20 Jan 20. Kleos Space locks in ‘nation state’ satellite client. ASX-listed Kleos Space has confirmed it will provide a satellite solution to a ‘nation state’ customer, marking a major milestone for the company as it prepares for a big 2020.
Space company Kleos said it has reached agreement to co-operate and collaborate with an unnamed nation state to use Kleos satellite data to enhance their maritime geospatial intelligence and analytics capability.
That country is described only as a sea-bound nation state.
“Kleos has secured a relationship with an exceptionally well resourced and intelligent nation state end-user facing continued challenges in policing its coast. Kleos will benefit greatly from the synergies this relationship offers,” Kleos Space chief executive Andy Bowyer.
“This development brings an enormous strategic benefit to Kleos, bringing an entry for Kleos directly into government opportunities. It offers the opportunity to test and validate Kleos data in a challenging end-user environment.
“The lessons we learn will position Kleos well as we engage further directly with governments.”
Kleos, based in Luxembourg and listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, plans to launch a constellation of 20 satellites providing global monitoring of maritime radio frequencies.
That allows accurate location of vessels in distress, as well as those seeking to avoid attention by not broadcasting automatic identification system (AIS) signals, the maritime version of aircraft transponder identification systems.
Government agencies can use that information to enhance border and maritime security and safety. It’s also of great interest to port operators and the insurance sector.
The Kleos Scouting Mission satellites will launch into a 37-degree inclination, delivering data collected over key regions of maritime interest for defence and security customers.
That includes the Strait of Hormuz, South China Sea, Australian coast, Southern US coast as well as the east and western African coast.
Kleos’ first four satellites, called the Kleos Scouting Mission, were scheduled for launch on the Indian Space Research Organisation Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C49 mission from Chennai, India, in December but that will now occur in early 2020.
Under the new nation state agreement, Kleos and the country will investigate opportunities to collaborate and develop a value-added proposition for current and future state and regional maritime opportunities.
They will also jointly develop a future commercial relationship including government procurement strategies, develop and implement scenario modelling and demonstration pilots to validate technical usability and application of Kleos data.
As well, they will develop a mutual commercial strategy for allied states. The company said it currently viewed the relationship with the nation state as not material to its financial situation as revenue that might be generated by the relationship could not be quantified at this time. (Source: Space Connect)
15 Jan 20. Telesat’s LEO Satellite Constellation, Ball Aerospace and General Dynamics Mission Systems Enlist Their Services for U.S. Air Force. This threesome of companies, Ball Aerospace, General Dynamics Mission Systems and Telesat, collaborated to demonstrate how high-performing commercial satellite systems, such as Telesat LEO, can provide important advantages for the U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center’s Commercially Augmented Space Inter Networked Operations (CASINO) program. The U.S. military has shown growing interest in advanced commercial space systems, such as Telesat’s LEO constellation, that can deliver highly secure and reliable broadband anywhere in the world with added benefits of global persistence, ultra-low latency, and rapid technology refresh.
A key priority for military planners is having access to a proliferated commercial LEO satellite system that can be far more robust and resilient in the event of attack versus the military’s large, unprotected GEO satellites. This was the rationale for DoD’s DARPA awarding a contract to Telesat that could lead to DoD using Telesat’s LEO system for its global broadband connectivity needs.
The CASINO program office approached the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) for help to solve the challenges with processing government data that originates on a commercial space bus. DIU facilitated pairing this commercial-defense relationship to solve the problem of data processing and exploitation.
CASINO is focused on operationalizing Blackjack, a project of DARPA. Blackjack is demonstrating how the military can increase the resilience of its networks by using commercially-derived LEO satellite constellations to disaggregate space-based comms that support DoD missions.
Demonstrations with Ball Aerospace and General Dynamics will consist of:
- Ball Aerospace: Processing, Exploitation and Dissemination Demonstration – Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite will communicate with Ball’s electronically-steered phased array antenna located at a Microsoft data center, as part of Ball Aerospace’s collaboration with Microsoft. Live testing of low-latency, high-speed links downloaded into the Microsoft Azure cloud and processed using Ball algorithms will demonstrate how data streams from an operational LEO can be processed quickly, thereby providing information superiority.
- General Dynamics Mission Systems: Data Operations – DoD data emulations will be combined with Telesat LEO emulations to demonstrate the volume, traffic management and efficiency of handoffs between military satellites and the Telesat LEO constellation.
Don Brown, General Manager, Government Services at Telesat said that the U.S. Air Force’s CASINO program recognizes that a proliferated commercial LEO satellite constellation can be a core component in the military’s future comms infrastructure. By teaming with technology leaders Ball Aerospace and General Dynamics Mission Systems, Telesat will demonstrate key advantages of its LEO system that DoD requires in its 21st century networks — faster transport of information with increased resiliency and security.
Steve Smith, vice president and general manager, Systems Engineering Solutions, Ball Aerospace, added that by combining the phased array technology of Ball Aerospace antennas and imagery exploitation algorithms in Azure with Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite, Ball and Telesat will demonstrate advances in communications performance that fulfill the goals of the Air Force CASINO program. The demonstration will show that the technology needed to enable proliferated commercial LEO satellite systems is available and can readily be implemented on a global basis to support the military’s global communications requirements.
Manny Mora, vice president and general manager, Space and Intelligence Systems at General Dynamics concluded that Telesat and General Dynamics Mission Systems are designing the future of resilient space-based communications. Their emulations for the Air Force’s CASINO program will highlight the increased availability and security that General Dynamics and the Telesat LEO system can deliver to U.S. and NATO missions. Their goal is to integrate government and commercial networks to create a global, space-based infrastructure that can readily bypass terrestrial networks that are vulnerable to attack and outages. U.S. defense forces and their allies around the world will benefit from being able to communicate and navigate uninterrupted in any operational environment. (Source: Satnews)
15 Jan 20. End Of New START Could Risk US Sats: Aerospace Corp. The likely demise of the US-Russia New START treaty could lead to a dangerous uptick in jamming, lazing and possibly even kinetic attacks of US satellites designed to monitor Russia nuclear weapons and forces, says a new study by the respected Aerospace Corp.
Noting that prospects for extension of the New START treaty by the Trump Administration are “dim,” the study says: “This change will stress the national security space community’s capabilities, assumptions, and habits, and is likely to raise new risks for the stability of the space domain.”
The study, “Noninterference With National Technical Means: The Status Quo Will Not Survive,” lays out four possible scenarios regarding the fate of “national technical means, NTM” operated by the Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Office if New START collapses.
All of the scenarios predict “opportunity costs” as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) satellites are swamped with new and more difficult tasking to keep tabs on Russian nuclear forces to compensate for the disappearance of onsite inspections and information exchanges required under the current treaty. Authors Michael Gleason and Luc Riesbeck say that increased demand will come on top of ever-growing competing requirements for monitoring China, North Korea, Iran, and terrorist organizations.
NTM is the arms control term of art for methods of verifying treaty compliance. Although no treaty specifies NTM systems, in practice they encompass all US intelligence and national security satellites (as well as aircraft, drones and fixed radar). “It’s not just IC satellites,” said Gleason during a rollout of the study today.
For the past 50 years, as the Aerospace study points out, nuclear arms control agreements — including New START, signed in 2010 and currently the only remaining US-Russia treaty capping nuclear weapons arsenals — have included prohibitions against any interference with NTM.
The study warns, the collapse of New START could undermine “NTM overflight’s legitimacy in international law,” especially since the US position from the 1960s—that overflight by military and intelligence satellites is a “peaceful use” of outer space—already is becoming “difficult to reconcile while avowedly preparing for warfighting in, through, and from space.”
New START limits Russia and the US each to no more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads and 700 deployed strategic delivery vehicles (meaning ICBMs, submarines and bombers). As Breaking D readers know, the Trump Administration has been waffling on whether it will pursue a five-year treaty extension when the treaty expires in February 2021. Instead, President Donald Trump has ordered his staff to begin work on a possible new trilateral nuclear arms control treaty that would include China and cover sub-strategic weapons (of which the Russians have more than the US) that are not covered by New START. Such a multilateral treaty is widely considered pie-in-the-sky by nuclear arms control experts.
Rose Gottemoeller, who was instrumental in negotiating New START and recently retired as deputy ambassador to NATO, stressed that the expiration of New START “is not inevitable,” and argued that it was in the US national interest to maintain it. On the other hand, she agreed that the norm against interference with NTM has been eroding for some time.
“The norm is worth preserving and extending,” she said, although “it may need some updating and strengthening.” In particular, she said, nations need to consider how to better protect drones used for verification of various international agreements.
She also questioned China’s current commitment to the norm and Beijing’s willingness to simply follow US and Russian precedent. She urged Washington and Moscow to work together to convince China that not interfering with NTM is in Beijing’s interest too.
The four scenarios, which the study stresses represent only a continuum of possibilities, are:
Scenario 1 “Noncodified, bilateral mutual restraint:” The United States and Russia decide separately that it is in their national interest to continue current practices regarding noninterference with NTM, even in the absence of a bilateral agreement.” However, the study says, the lack of a legal agreement on NTM probably will undercut international adherence to what up to now has been a generally agreed norm — in particular emboldening China and India to test interference methods. It could also lower the “threshold for initiating the first-use of offensive space control capabilities, resulting in less crisis stability.” Further, efforts to develop multilateral norms of behavior and transparency and confidence-building measures in space — efforts the Trump Administration has pledged to support — would be undermined.
Scenario 2 “Codified, bilateral mutual restraint:” The two sides sign a new detailed agreement on noninterference with NTM. While more optimistic than Scenario 1, the collection requirements for tracking Russia’s nuclear forces would still grow, the study says. However, the stability of the space domain would be unaffected in Scenario B, and the challenges arising from the increasing contested nature of the space domain would not be exacerbated.
Scenario 3 “Multilateral restraint:” A multilateral treaty, including China or maybe the P5 nuclear weapons states (that’s China, France, Russian, the United Kingdom, and the US), is signed to prevent NTM interference. The most optimistic of the scenarios, it would strengthen the norm legitimizing ISR satellite overflights. As is often the case in arms control, the most optimistic scenario is also the least likely, given the current difficulties facing multilateral fora such as the United Nations in reaching such any new space agreements.
Scenario 4 “No mutual restraint:” This is the most pessimistic case. “Tracking Russia’s nuclear forces becomes increasingly difficult. The stability of the space domain deteriorates severely due to the absence of mutual restraint and the degradation of existing processes for developing international norms of behavior for space. The danger of miscommunication, misperception, and miscalculation swells along with the risk of conflict quickly extending into space. Current threats to stability in the space domain are greatly exacerbated, resulting in its full destabilization.”
What can the US do to counter those negative consequences should New START topple?
- Negotiate a stand-alone NTM noninterference agreement;
- Reveal the identity of NTM satellites to allow such an agreement to be acceptable, and to increase deterrence; and,
- Publicly attribute interference with U.S. satellites to bolster deterrence and to ensure other countries understand what constitutes responsible or irresponsible behavior in space. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
17 Jan 20. A new GPS III satellite is online. What will it bring to the fleet? The first GPS III satellite is officially healthy and available for use by the military and civilians as of Jan. 13, thanks to a ground segment upgrade that provides the military command and control of the new, more powerful navigation satellite.
Many of its more advanced features, however, won’t be available until the full GPS III suite of satellites is on orbit, its next-generation ground segment is operational and war fighters have terminals that are built to access those features.
The 2nd Space Operations Squadron made the announcement Jan. 14, crediting the Contingency Operations upgrade — which the military refers to as Architecture Evolution Plan 8.0 — with making it possible to incorporate the first GPS III satellite into the rest of the GPS constellation.
“In order to operate GPS III, we first had to install Architecture Evolution Plan 8.0,” said Capt. Ryan Thompson, 2nd SOPS assistant director of sustainment. “This allowed our squadron to control the new satellite without a next-generation operational control system. The 2nd SOPS training and evaluations flight was able to expeditiously give our operators top-up training that allowed them to become comfortable with the new satellite.”
GPS III is a significant upgrade from prior GPS satellites. According to prime contractor Lockheed Martin, the new navigation satellites are three times more accurate, have a 25 percent longer design life than the next best GPS satellites, and boast an eight times stronger anti-jamming capability. It is also the first GPS satellite that provides a civilian signal that is compatible with other navigation satellite systems, such as the European Union’s Galileo constellation.
The new, advanced satellites were designed to operate with a new, advanced ground segment that has yet to materialize. The Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX) is years behind its original schedule according to a May Government Accountability Office report, though prime contractor Raytheon said at the time that OCX was on schedule for its new delivery date of June 2021. It delivered the first part of OCX, the launch and checkout system, in September 2017.
That revised delivery date, however, puts its availability years behind the launch of the first GPS III satellites. The first satellite was launched more than a year ago on Dec. 23, 2018, and the second was launched August 2019.
To ensure that the GPS III satellites weren’t sitting idly in orbit until OCX was available, the Air Force contracted with Lockheed Martin to build an upgrade to the current ground system to make it possible to utilize at least some of the GPS III capabilities in the interim. The Contingency Operations program was delivered June 2019, and the Air Force announced that the upgrade was nearing operational acceptance in October. With the Jan. 13 announcement, it is now being used to control the first GPS III satellite.
The second GPS III satellite is being managed on orbit by Lockheed Martin while the 2nd SOPS prepares for it to enter active use with its sibling. A third GPS III satellite is slated for launch later this year. (Source: Defense News)
16 Jan 20. Two Satellogic Smallsats Engage in Trip to LEO Placements. The Satellogic team has successfully delivered two new spacecraft into LEO — the satellites were launched via a Long March 2D rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in China, joining Satellogic’s eight other satellites that are already on-orbit. This launch is but the first of many planned such events scheduled for 2020. Satellogic is excited by how the company has grown alongside the firm’s customers’ needs and has increased the capabilities of the fleet, allowing the firm to consistently improve what is offered to our customers in regard to geospatial analytics and insights for decision making. Both satellites are equipped with two payloads: a multi-spectral camera with 1 meter resolution and a hyperspectral camera with 30 meter resolution. During launch, each stage was completed successfully and on schedule, as follows:
- 03:00 — 1st stage separation.
- 03:05:30 — Main payload separation.
- 03:06:00 — NewSat-7 separation, powered up for the first time in space. A new satellite was born: Sophie.
- 03:06:30 — NewSat-8 separation, powered up for the first time in space. A new satellite was born: Marie.
- 03:31 — First pass over Troll ground station in Antarctica, first telemetry packets received, Sophie and Marie are part of the Aleph constellation and welcomed to our space family! Early verification of satellites’ good health through beacons. Each subsystem responsible checked online telemetry.
- 07:25 — Later pass over Svalbard North Pole ground station, tests and verifications completed to understand satellite health. Early orbits stored telemetry download, analysis and maneuvers for satellite stabilization and verification process performed by the Operations and Commissioning team at the company’s Buenos Aires office. (Source: Satnews)
17 Jan 20. 2nd Space Operations Squadron Sets SVN-74 Healthy and Active.
- The 2nd Space Operations Squadron set Satellite Vehicle Number-74 is healthy and active to users on the 2nd SOPS operations floor Monday.
- Setting SVN-74 healthy and active means the satellite will be available for use by military and civilian GPS users around the world as part of the constellation currently maintained by the squadron. This makes the satellite the first iteration in the GPS III family to join the active constellation following its launch December 23, 2018.
- Capt. Ryan Thompson, 2nd SOPS assistant director of sustainment, said various training modules and upgrades were instrumental in making the satellite operational.
- “In order to operate GPS III, we first had to install Architecture Evolution Plan 8.0,” he said. “This allowed our squadron to control the new satellite without a next generation operational control system. The 2nd SOPS training and evaluations flight was able to expeditiously give our operators top-up training that allowed them to become comfortable with the new satellite.”
- The GPS III vehicle family provides new capabilities vital to ensuring the fidelity of the constellation and signal in the contested, degraded and operationally limited environments.
- According to the Lockheed-Martin press release, GPS III satellites have three times better accuracy and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities than their predecessors, and a design life extending 25 percent longer than the newest GPS satellites on-orbit today. GPS III’s new civil signal will also make it the first GPS satellite to broadcast a compatible signal with other international global navigation satellite systems, like Galileo, improving connectivity for civilian users.
- 2nd SOPS is already preparing for the second GPS Block III vehicle in orbit, awaiting its day to become healthy and active.
- “There are vehicles currently projected to be put into the constellation and then following this there will be the Block III-F follow-on vehicles,” said Capt. Kaoru Elliot, 2nd SOPS assistant director of operations. “With those vehicles in place, all of those capabilities will come into the next decade.”
- A third vehicle for GPS III is scheduled for launch later this year.
- “It [GPS Block III vehicle two] is being managed currently by Lockheed-Martin,” Elliott said. “They are the ones actually getting the satellites up there and once it is up in orbit, they make sure everything is good before handing it over to us.”
- The work within 2nd SOPS to ensure SVN-74 is healthy and active in the constellation shows their commitment to continue providing the gold standard of position, navigation, and timing to 4 billion users around the world. (Source: Satnews)
16 Jan 20. ‘Operating in Space: Current Multilateral Policy Issues and Challenges’, by Her Excellence Kara Owen, British High Commissioner to Singapore. Delivered on: 14 January 2020 (Transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered)
Opening remarks by Her Excellence Kara Owen, British High Commissioner to Singapore at Wilton Park’s first overseas Space dialogue: ‘Operating in Space: Current multilateral policy issues and challenges.’
A warm welcome to His Excellency, Premier Stephen Marshall of South Australia, Her Excellency, High Commissioner Jo Tyndall of New Zealand, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Firstly, let me say how great it is to see you all here in Singapore.
And to this Track 1.5 Wilton Park conference on Outer Space.
Wilton Park is an executive agency of the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and delivers conferences from its base in Sussex, England. They have been organising conferences on space for many years that have focused on technical and regulatory solutions for operating in space.
At our Wilton Park event in April last year, we looked at how our conduct of space activities affects other operators and the space environment. There were representatives from Brazil, India, Russia and Turkey in addition to those who had attended before and we learned a lot from listening to multiple views.
This is the first time we have taken these Wilton Park space discussions outside the UK and to this new audience. So thank you for being here.
I am most grateful to the support shown by our Australian and New Zealand colleagues and to Secure World Foundation, an independent think tank.
We have ten ASEAN nations represented in this room plus other Asian nations including China, India, Japan, Pakistan and the Republic of Korea and of course our friends from the United States. We hope that this is the start of a new conversation on space and that there will be more events like this one.
We want this conversation to be inclusive. We want it to be frank and free and to recognise that the space environment is changing rapidly. And that means that the international community needs to respond and develop its thinking.
This past year saw:
- A test of a cutting-edge system of a harpoon and a net used in space to capture debris for the first time. They were deployed by the UK with the European Space Agency.
- The first life extension satellite launched by a US company bringing in to use this novel technology.
- The first landing on the dark side of the moon, by China.
- Starlink and OneWeb mega constellation satellites start to be launched in to space. These cause us to take a second look at space traffic management.
These developments reflect the fact that outer space matters because our economy and security depend on the safe, secure and sustainable use of Outer Space.
We rely on space for position, navigation and timing signals for our economy such as for banking data and to allow our militaries to operate.
We broadcast television from space. We send civil and military satellite communications through space. And we use earth observation data from satellites to improve agriculture and fight climate change.
Each of our nations aspire to grow and increase the wealth of its citizens. To do so, we all need safe and secure-access to systems in space. It’s in all of our interests to find ways to reduce the threats to our space systems. And it’s therefore vital that we develop a common understanding of the threats to space operations and a common lexicon for talking about it.
Some of this is about dealing with the unique nature of space. This is an environment that presents far more challenges than those we find on earth.
Collisions can happen on land or sea as they can and do in space. But collisions in space – or conjunctions, as they are known – can have more far reaching consequences than their terrestrial equivalents.
Conjunctions, intentional or not, create debris. That debris presents a threat whether it is a lifeless rocket body, a speck of paint or a dead satellite. We therefore need to do all we can to reduce the risk of such incidents.
Some of the threat is also down to the fact that new technologies have been developed that can damage or disrupt our space-based infrastructure. Some of these capabilities, such as anti-satellite missiles, are clearly military in nature. Others, such as powerful lasers, could have both military and civilian uses. So how should we ensure that we avoid misunderstandings in this new domain?
The current international legal regime, including the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, was drawn up in a different technological era. It did not foresee many of the developments that are now a reality. That is not a reason to reopen the Treaty. But nor should that stop us from working together to agree practical measures that would help make the space environment safer and more secure.
We have seen good progress in Vienna, at the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, or COPUOS. In June, COPUOS agreed 21 guidelines for the Long Term Sustainability of Space.
The UN General Assembly adopted the Guidelines by consensus in November. These set minimum standards and good practice for space operators. They demonstrate that the international community can agree better ways of working together with goodwill from all sides.
This should provide inspiration for discussions on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) under the UN Disarmament Committee in New York and the Conference of Disarmament in Geneva. With a more open and inclusive conversation, we hope that these discussions in Singapore will help inform those bodies. And we hope that we will find new ways to support the peaceful uses of space while recognising that this is an environment that is increasingly congested – and one in which new technologies are constantly coming online.
Today, the sessions will look at some of the practical problems of operating in space. And tomorrow you will be invited to suggest possible solutions.
This gives you all a real opportunity to explore practical measures for better communication between nations: directly, in normal times and at times of stress; to express our intent before we act; and to look at how behaviours are themselves a form of communication.
I know you will also look at how these ideas could be taken forward with other nations after the conference.
And our intention is to work with partners to repeat this conference with other regional groups.
This conference is designed to enable a different, more open style of discussion, away from formal statements and to try to build a better understanding of what you are all thinking. So please do make the most of this setting to learn, engage with us and challenge our assumptions.
I wish you all the very best of luck. (Source: Satnews)
16 Jan 20. In-Space Missions Service and a 10m Euros ESA Program. In-Space Missions Limited (In-Space) and ESA have signed a Public Private Partnership (PPP) program worth 10m euros to develop the Faraday 2nd generation capabilities to become a Service Mission Provider (SMP) and fly two smallsat validation missions in LEO — the PPP program is co-funded under the ESA ARTES Pioneer program and is part of the Partners Projects.
In-Space has had commercial success with the Faraday 1st Generation (F1G) service that has attracted large space primes, start-ups and academia as customers.
This turnkey service enables multiple 3rd party payloads to ‘rideshare’ on a single satellite platform and take advantage of the economies provided by sharing the infrastructure.
As satellite design, build, regulatory, launch and operations costs are shared across the customers, the typical price of flying with Faraday is around a third of the cost of buying a stand-alone satellite. The first Faraday 1st Generation satellite, incorporating seven distinct customers on a 6U cubesat, is now built and awaiting launch.
The ESA Pioneer program for Faraday 2nd Generation will significantly improve on F1G through an enhanced user-service development and the design and test of a new satellite platform, CubeScale, that enables dramatic performance improvements and cost reductions.
The service design and CubeScale approach will enable In-Space to offer flights on the Faraday service to LEO, including launch, regulatory and six months of operations, at market disrupting prices. With a proposed flight every 3 to 6 months from 2022, the service will provide a ‘responsive space’ solution for a number of customers needing rapid in space technology and service validation.
The CubeScale platform takes the avionics or ‘brains’ of a low-cost cubesat and incorporates a scalable thermo-mechanical, power and precision AOCS solutions to deliver a high performance, low cost microsatellite platform with a payload carrying capability up to 80 kg. The novel flexible hardware and software interface design enables payload providers to contract with In-Space as late as three months prior to launch.
CubeScale is designed to be agnostic to the avionics solution and as such can incorporate the best in class of Europe’s cubesat capabilities. While the ESA Pioneer validation missions will take place in low Earth orbit, the CubeScale architecture is readily extendable to medium Earth orbit, geostationary orbit and beyond.
While In-Space is leading the service development and delivery, the CubeScale platform is being developed by a world-class team of British companies. Magna Parva Ltd. is taking the lead on the novel flexible structure and extremely low shock launch adapter. Bright Ascension Ltd. will drive on the space and ground software interfaces and design tools. In-Space will provide systems leadership to the CubeScale team and develop the AOCS solution.
Tony Holt, In-Space CTO, said this is a fantastic opportunity to bring together three great British SMEs with the goal of enabling many more organizations to demonstrate, prove and start to deliver new space based services.
Doug Liddle, the CEO of In-Space, said Faraday has proven to be a game-changer for the firm’s customers to date and this ESA Artes Pioneer program will give Europe a World beating capability in the rapid demonstration and early roll-out of new and advanced technologies, systems, services and applications. The CubeScale design allows us to fly large payloads alongside cubesat-sized payloads at a transformational price and performance not currently available to small missions. With this project, In-Space aims to further stretch its capabilities as a Space Mission Provider. In-Space will build and perform a flight demonstration with innovative satellite based on its novel and modular platform. A great achievement by the ESA and In-Space led team that kicked off this project. (Source: Satnews)
16 Jan 20. SpinLaunch Receives $35m Investment. Jonathan Yaney, Founder and CEO of SpinLaunch, Inc., has announced that the company has received an additional investment of $35m for continued development of the world’s first kinetic launch system, designed to provide the lowest-cost, environmentally responsible orbital launch system to serve the rapidly growing smallsat industry.
The responsive launch system uses a large mass accelerator to provide on demand launches of smallsats in virtually any weather at an order of magnitude lower cost and higher frequency than any existing or proposed launch system.
In January 2019, SpinLaunch relocated to a new 140,000 square foot facility in Long Beach, California, and funds will be used for the buildout of this corporate headquarters and investing in equipment and machinery to be a world-class R&D manufacturing facility. In addition, the company is hiring additional talent for both its Long Beach headquarters and Spaceport test facility. the first flight test is expected later this year.
SpinLaunch is re-imagining space launch by revisiting fundamental physics and leveraging proven industrial technologies to create a system that accelerates the launch vehicle to hypersonic speeds using ground-based electricity. Applying the initial performance boost from a terrestrial-based launch platform will enable the company to provide a substantially lower cost launch to orbit, multiple times per day.
Investors include Airbus Ventures, GV, KPCB, Catapult Ventures, Lauder Partners, John Doerr and Byers Family. The funds from this investment will be used to scale the SpinLaunch team and technology, and continue to build out SpinLaunch’s new corporate headquarters in Long Beach, California, and complete the flight test facility at Spaceport America in New Mexico.
CEO Yaney said the company’s team at SpinLaunch greatly appreciates the continued support of this formidable syndicate of investors, who share the firm’s vision of enabling low-cost and frequent launch of imaging and communications constellations that will protect the planet and humanity. Later this year, SpinLaunch aims to change the history of space launch with the completion of the first flight test mass accelerator at Spaceport America. (Source: Satnews)
16 Jan 20. Arianespace Sends Telecommunication Satellites Soaring for Eutelsat and ISRO. “And we are off, Ariane 5 is blazing a trail across the equatorial skies,” said the announcer for today’s launch.
Flight VA251 went smoothly for Arianespace’s first flight of the new year and new decade, with the send off of two satellites dedicated to telecommunications, EUTELSAT’s KONNECT and ISRO’s GSAT-30.
For this 251st launch of an Ariane-series vehicle – designated Flight VA251 in Arianespace’s numbering system – the payload lift performance to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) is approximately 7,888 kg. This combined total factors in EUTELSAT KONNECT and GSAT-30, plus the dual-passenger dispenser system and satellite integration hardware.
And with this the 40th anniversary year for Arianespace, their CEO, Stephane Israel stated that Arianespace is targeting a record pace in 2020. With this latest launch, Arianespace continues to help reduce the digital divide worldwide, while confirming its leadership in the geostationary orbit launch market.
Today’s launch, designated Flight VA251, was the 315th mission by the Arianespace launcher family and the 107th by an Ariane 5 version.
Following the launch, Arianespace Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Israël said: “As we enter the year of our 40th anniversary, Arianespace is targeting a record pace in 2020. It begins with this initial success of Ariane 50 at the service of two long-standing customers and partners: the French operator Eutelsat, and ISRO, the Indian space agency. I would like to thank our two loyal customers for entrusting us.
The launch orbited EUTELSAT KONNECT, the first satellite based on the Spacebus NEO platform of Thales Alenia Space, developed with the support and expertise of ESA and CNES. EUTELSAT KONNECT will help reduce the digital divide in Europe and Africa; as will our second passenger on today’s flight, GSAT-30, designed, manufactured and operated by ISRO to enhance communications on the Indian subcontinent. More than ever, placing space at the service of a better life on Earth remains Arianespace’s primary purpose.
With today’s Flight VA251 mission, we have once again clearly underscored our ability to adapt to all customer requirements, while also confirming our leadership in the geostationary orbit launch services market.”
With EUTELSAT KONNECT’s launch, Arianespace contributes to connectivity access and European innovation
The all-electric Ka-band EUTELSAT KONNECT satellite is the 34th Eutelsat relay platform to be launched by Arianespace since its initial mission for this operator in 1983. EUTELSAT KONNECT is the first satellite to use the Spacebus NEO platform from Thales Alenia Space. This project has been developed within the scope of the Neosat program set up by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the French CNES.
EUTELSAT KONNECT will offer total capacity of 75 Gbps. It will enable Eutelsat to provide Internet access services for companies as well as individuals at rates up to 100 Mbps. It will contribute to reducing the digital divide by bringing broadband connectivity to 40 countries in Africa and 15 countries in Europe.
In Africa, EUTELSAT KONNECT also will provide shared Internet access between several users based on the creation of public Wi-Fi terminals, with users able to buy coupons that can be paid via their mobile phones.
More than half of all Eutelsat satellites have been orbited by Arianespace. Having six more satellites booked with Arianespace, Eutelsat also is the first commercial customer to order an Ariane 6 launch.
EUTELSAT KONNECT is the 163rd satellite built by Thales Alenia Space to be launched by Arianespace. Five more satellites from this manufacturer currently are in Arianespace’s backlog.
GSAT-30: Arianespace continues its collaboration with ISRO
GSAT-30 is the 24th Indian geostationary satellite to be launched by Arianespace. This mission once again illustrates the exceptional relationship between Arianespace and the Indian space agency, starting with the launch of the country’s APPLE experimental satellite in 1981, using the third Ariane launcher on Flight L03.
Designed and built by ISRO, using the enhanced I-3K platform, it will deliver high-quality television, telecommunications and broadcasting services to all of India, including islands, with a design life exceeding 15 years.
A year after the launch of GSAT-31, GSAT-30 will replace the Insat 4A satellite as ISRO continues to use space to bridge the digital divide on the Indian subcontinent, as part of its ambitious space program. This program calls on all types of space applications, including navigation, Earth observation, communications and the broadcast of educational programs, while also contributing to scientific research and planetary exploration.
— Sending satellites to GTO —
EUTELSAT KONNECT – which was produced by Thales Alenia Space for Eutelsat – is riding in the upper position of Ariane 5’s payload arrangement, was released first in the flight sequence at 27 minutes following liftoff.
GSAT-30 was designed and manufactured by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), and was deployed from Ariane 5’s lower passenger position 38 minutes into the flight – completing the mission. For its initial flight of 2020, Arianespace will orbit two telecommunications satellites using an Ariane 5 launch vehicle from the Guiana Space Center: EUTELSAT KONNECT for the operator Eutelsat; and GSAT-30 for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
Eutelsat Communications is established in Paris, with offices and teleports located around the globe. Eutelsat provides capacity on nearly 40 satellites to clients that include broadcasters and broadcasting associations, pay-TV operators, video, data and internet service providers, enterprises and government agencies.
Once in orbit, EUTELSAT KONNECT will offer total capacity of 75 Gbps and by next autumn will allow the operator to provide internet access services for companies and individuals alike at up to 100 Mbps. The satellite will help to fight against the digital divide by bringing broadband internet across 40 countries in Africa and 15 countries across Europe.
In Africa, EUTELSAT KONNECT also will, through the establishment of public Wi-Fi terminals, share internet access between several users, marketed in the form of coupons that can be paid via mobile phone.
The new EUTELSAT KONNECT satellite features all-electric propulsion and operates in Ka-band. It is the first to use Thales Alenia Space’s all-electric Spacebus NEO platform, developed under the Neosat Partnership Project conducted by the European and French space agencies (ESA and CNES). More robust, more modular, more powerful, more innovative, more flexible, this platform is perfectly adapted to operators’ expectations in the evolving telecommunication market, and particlularly well positioned for very demanding VHTS missions.
EUTELSAT KONNECT will allow the in-orbit validation of the complete end-to-end system of the new Spacebus Neo product line, including the fully-electric orbit-raising phase.
Arianespace will orbit GSAT-30 on the initial Ariane 5 launch in 2020, after delivering GSAT-31 for ISRO one year ago.
To be installed as flight VA251’s lower passenger, GSAT-30 is a telecommunications satellite designed and manufactured by ISRO. To be positioned at a longitude of 83 degrees East, it will provide high-quality television, telecommunications and broadcasting services over Indian mainland and Islands.
GSAT-30 is configured on ISRO’s enhanced I-3K platform to provide communications services from geostationary orbit in C- and Ku-band for a lifetime greater than 15 years.
By operating GSAT-30, ISRO will – once again – foster the use of space to help bridge the digital divide in the Indian subcontinent as part of its ambitious space program. These objectives are to develop India by focusing on all types of space applications, including navigation, Earth observation, telecommunications and broadcasts of educational programs, while pursuing science research and planetary exploration.
For more than 30 years, France and India have developed exemplary cooperation in the space field.
Since the launch of India’s APPLE experimental satellite on Ariane Flight L03 in 1981, Arianespace has orbited 23 satellites and signed 24 launch contracts with the Indian space agency. The orbiting of GSAT-30 marks another demonstration of the strong bond uniting Europe and India in space cooperation. GSAT-30 will replace the Insat 4A satellite in orbit. (Source: Satnews)
17 Jan 20. Smart Smallsat Pony Express 1 Developed by Lockheed Martin Now On-Orbit and Performing Well. A new era of space-based computing is now being tested on-orbit that will enable artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, cloud networking and advanced satellite communications (SATCOM) in a new software-defined architecture.
Recently, Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) launched the Pony Express 1 mission as a hosted payload on Tyvak-0129, a next-generation Tyvak 6U smallsat.
Pony Express 1, an example of rapid prototyping, was developed, built and integrated in nine months, and was funded completely by Lockheed Martin Research and Development funding. This orbital proving ground is validating payload hardware and software, and is packed with new technology that fits into a satellite the size of a shoebox. Some of the key technologies being flight-tested include:
- HiveStar™ software validates advanced adaptive mesh communications between satellites, shared processing capabilities and can take advantage of sensors aboard other smart satellites to customize missions in new ways previously difficult to achieve in space.
- A software-defined radio that allows for high-bandwidth hosting of multiple RF applications, store-and-forward RF collection, data compression, digital signal processing and waveform transmission.
- 3D-printed wideband antenna housing developed by Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Research Technology Center.
Pony Express 1 is a dual-use payload that enables mesh networks in space through HiveStar™ and a second function that tests space to ground remote sensing. Future research missions this year, like Pony Express 2, will further advance cloud networking concepts among satellites, as well as validating Lockheed Martin’s SmartSat™ software-defined satellite architecture which enables streamlined hosting of flexible mission apps.
This mission consists of two, 12U cubesats with faster, more capable ultra-scale processors that unlock in-orbit data analytics and artificial intelligence. Equipped with miniaturized cross-link and precision timing, Pony Express 2 is a trailblazer for autonomous teaming in space and true cloud networking.
Rick Ambrose, EVP of Lockheed Martin Space, said that early on-orbit data shows Pony Express 1 is performing its important pathfinding mission very well. Lockheed Martin’s HiveStar™ technology on board will give the firm’s customers unparalleled speed, resiliency and flexibility for their changing mission needs by unlocking even greater processing power in space. This is the first of several rapid, self-funded experiments demonstrating our ability to systematically accelerate our customers’ speed to mission while reducing risk from new technologies. (Source: Satnews)
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