Sponsored By Viasat
05 Feb 20. Viasat comments on the aftermath of Brexit and the future. “As one chapter of the move towards Brexit ends, the UK needs to begin making up for lost time. The focus on Brexit manoeuvring over the past three years has distracted attention from key decisions in areas such as defence and industrial strategy that have to be made and acted upon regardless of the UK’s future relationship with the European Union. From new defence satellite capabilities to the UK’s ambition to gain 10 percent of the global space market by 2030, there have been clear targets and deadlines set that are already much harder to meet than when they were proposed – and this difficulty will only increase. While negotiations will continue over the 2020 transition period, the UK has to treat Brexit as only one facet of Government activity and renew its focus on other critical areas such as defence. With threats from near-peer adversaries, terrorism, political warfare, propaganda and fake news all increasing, the often-delayed defence review has to push ahead, to resolve the current conflict between different approaches to defence and ensure the UK can invest in new and modernised and interconnected military capabilities to maintain tactical advantage into the 21st century. Without swift action, the stagnation will not only hold back UK industry and economic growth, it also may threaten the safety of our nation and the freedoms we seek to preserve.” said Steve Beeching, Managing Director of Viasat UK.
05 Feb 20. RoKAF indicates space force ambitions. The Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) has outlined plans to lean on local technologies in developing a future “space force”.
General Won In-Choul, RoKAF Chief of Staff, said at a recent conference in Seoul that the space force target will be achieved through several phases of development. He indicated that the space force would be expected to achieve full functionality by 2050.
In comments published in a Ministry of National Defense (MND) press release, Gen Won said, “Developments in science and technology and technological innovation are expanding the scope of war into space and cyber domains.”
He added, “[The RoKAF] is exploring three stages of future direction to [develop a] space force by 2050. (Source: Jane’s)
07 Feb 20. UK company to conduct space electronics courses in Aus. UK space engineering and technology company Spacechips will run a pair of training courses in Sydney and Adelaide on space electronics.
The three-day courses will be held in Sydney from 6-8 April and Adelaide from 15-17 April and are designed to impart understanding of satellite sub-systems and to develop local capability and expertise.
Spacechips said these are suitable for small-satellite design engineers, system integrators, system engineers, project and program managers, procurement staff and others.
“Our training courses are unique and not offered by anyone else in the world. Numbers are limited to give you a personal and interactive education experience, and all attendees receive a personal bound copy of the training notes containing almost 900 slides,” the company said.
“We have taught over 600 space professionals in 12 countries, including 37 companies and six agencies in France, Germany, Holland, India, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Spain, Turkey, UK and USA.”
This will be taught by Spacechips chief executive Dr Rajan Bedi, who headed mixed signal space electronics design at Airbus Defence and Space in the UK for 12 years.
During that time he designed the space electronics for telecommunication, Earth observation, navigation and science missions.
The course will cover how to design space electronics right-first-time, to cost and schedule to prevent over-engineering, late delivery and excess spending.
It will also cover differences between all space-grade FPGAs (field programmable gate arrays) and how to select the most suitable devices for your project.
The course will also cover how to select and use low-cost, commercial-off-the-shelf parts that can be reliably used for space applications.
Dr Bedi will explain how to reduce the size, cost, weight and power consumption of satellite transponders and how to test small-satellite payloads efficiently, cost effectively and get to launch quickly.
He will also explain what parts not to use for your next small satellite. (Source: Space Connect)
06 Feb 20. The Pentagon wants a roadside assistance service in space. The Department of Defense wants physical access to its satellites in geostationary orbit, and it’s not hard to understand why.
Satellites are valuable due to their unique location — hundreds to tens of thousands of miles above the Earth — where they can produce unique imagery of the surface or extend communications to far-flung locales. But that unique vantage also puts limits on orbiting satellites.
Because they are largely inaccessible, operators can’t switch out broken or outdated hardware, and they can’t even refuel them. Whatever hardware and fuel is on a satellite at launch is all it’s got for its entire life span.
But what if there was a service dedicated to efforts in space that allows the military to access, repair and tow its on-orbit satellites?
That’s what the Defense Innovation Unit wants. The Pentagon technology hub has issued a solicitation for a low-cost logistics service that can provide physical access to military satellites all the way from low-Earth orbit to geostationary orbit, or even cislunar orbit.
Specifically, DIU wants multi-orbit logistics vehicles capable of ferrying payloads between satellites in completely different orbits, acting as on-orbit fuel depots, or transferring space vehicles to new orbits. Here are the different commercial services and vehicle types for which DIU is looking:
- Light utility m-OLV: capable of transporting (hosting) one or more mechanically coupled payloads (about 50-kilogram payload capacity). The vehicle should have sufficient propellant capacity to transport one payload from low-Earth orbit to geostationary orbit with guidance and control to support cooperative rendezvous, proximity operations and release of its payload at the end of the transit.
- Heavy utility m-OLV: capable of transporting (hosting) one or more mechanically coupled payloads or spacecraft (500-plus-kilogram payload capacity). Sufficient propellant for persistent operations and maneuver to another orbit. The vehicle should include guidance and control to support cooperative rendezvous, proximity operations, and berthing with a space outpost or servicer.
- Fuel depot: capable of storing and transferring sufficient chemical and/or electrical propellant to a m-OLV or self-propelled satellite to achieve a transfer from low-Earth orbit to geostationary orbit. The depot should include the necessary mechanisms, sensors and controls to couple the customer vehicle to the depot for refueling.
- Ride-sharing approach: provide transport of detachable payloads or propellant to an m-OLV or an outpost in geostationary, cislunar or another exotic orbit.
The timing of the solicitation is interesting. SpaceLogistics, a Northrop Grumman subsidiary, is expected to provide the first commercial instance of on-orbit satellite servicing this month. The company’s Mission Extension Vehicle-01 is expected to dock with an Intelsat communications satellite and then use its own propulsion system to move the Intelsat satellite to a new orbit.
MEV-01’s mission is to extend the life of on-orbit satellites that are low on fuel by acting as a replacement propulsion system. But SpaceLogistics plans for future vehicles to be able to complete more complex missions, such as using mechanical arms to conduct repairs, or to replace an on-orbit payload with a new, more advanced model delivered from Earth.
The Space Enterprise Consortium has issued a contract to SpaceLogistics to look into servicing four national security satellites.
Of course, SpaceLogistics isn’t the only entity pursuing on-orbit maintenance and transport services. Astroscale is building space vehicles that can secure and de-orbit space debris such as defunct satellites, while the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is developing robotic arms capable of performing maintenance on satellites in geostationary orbit.
NASA is also trying to build capabilities in this area, awarding a $142 million contract to Maxar last month for robotic arms to perform in-space assembly.
DIU plans to acquire a commercial service through a multi-phased effort, starting with a systems engineering study before moving on to demonstrations of on-orbit capabilities. A prototype should be ready for flight within 36 months of contract award.
Responses are due Feb. 16. More information can be found on the DIU’s open solicitations page https://www.diu.mil/work-with-us/open-solicitations (Source: Defense News)
06 Feb 20. ACMA lists SpaceX, Kepler, Swarm in schedule of approved satellite operators. SpaceX has moved a step closer to providing its Starlink satellite broadband service to Australian consumers, after the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) added it to a list of those allowed to operate over Australian airspace.
Also listed was Canadian company Kepler Communications and US firm Swarm Technologies, with both also proposing constellations of small communications satellites in low-Earth orbit.
Inclusion of these companies in Schedule 1 of the Radiocommunications (Foreign Space Objects) Amendment Determination will allow them to begin the process of seeking full regulatory approval to operate in Australia.
That includes approval to use radio frequency spectrum.
The SpaceX Starlink isn’t yet operational, though it is already the world’s largest constellation with 242 satellites in orbit, launched in four batches of 60 plus some prototypes.
SpaceX found Elon Musk’s vision is for a constellation of as many as 12,000 satellites, providing low-cost global broadband services. He said last year that Starlink would be economically viable with 1,000 satellites, with additional satellites to meet customer demand.
To populate its constellation, SpaceX proposes to launch batches of 60 satellites twice every month for the rest of this year.
SpaceX remains the big player – Kepler and Swarm are proposing smaller constellations, as are other companies yet to seek ACMA approval, among them Australian firm Sky and Space Global (SAS).
In its submission to ACMA, SpaceX said its inclusion on the schedule would allow it to begin the process of seeking regulatory approval to operate in Australia, including obtaining the required space apparatus licence.
The proposed new satellite operators weren’t wholly welcomed by one existing operator.
In a submission to ACMA, subscription television service provider Foxtel, owned by News Corp, said it had very high levels of concern about the newcomers potentially interfering with its services if they were allowed to use the Ku frequency band.
“Given the potential catastrophic business impact of interference, the need to protect existing systems from these new constellations must be a priority for the ACMA going forward,” it said.
South Australian internet of things connectivity firm Myriota also expressed concern about potential spectrum conflicts.
“Myriota will require frequency co-ordination with any foreign operators who intend to operate in Australia using spectrum with frequency overlap of our existing ACMA licences,” it said.
The Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA) said in general it supported initiatives that would assist the growth of the Australian space industry, including provision of space-based services in Australia by both Australian and foreign satellite operators.
“The SIAA recognises that the availability of radiofrequency spectrum for the control of space objects and provision of space-based services is a necessary and critical element for the growth of the Australian space industry,” said SIAA chairman Rod Drury.
“The SIAA notes that it is essential for the ACMA to protect and enhance access to radio frequency spectrum for a wide range of satellite operators in order to ensure the continued growth of the Australian space industry.” (Source: Space Connect)
06 Feb 20. Northrop Grumman mission extension vehicle to support old comms satellite. A pioneering space mission will soon get under way, creating a brand new market for space services that is likely to be followed by many more. Northrop Grumman’s robotic Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV-1) has arrived on station in geostationary orbit and its next step is to link up with the near two-decade old Intelsat I-901.
This expensive satellite remains fully functional but is running low on the fuel it needs to maintain orbital station and attitude.
The idea is for MEV-1 to link up to Intelsat I-901, launched in 2001, and use its own fuel to perform the required station keeping.
For five years of this service, Intelsat is paying new Northrop Grumman subsidiary Space Logistics an unspecified but substantial sum. That’s still a whole lot cheaper than building and launching a whole new satellite.
Should Intelsat desire, it can extend the contract at the end of five years. If not, MEV-1 will move on to extend the life of another satellite. Although this has yet to be proven, Intelsat was sufficiently convinced to contract for life extension of a second satellite. (Source: Space Connect)
05 Feb 20. Kazakhstan has revealed that it intends to stand up and establish its own satellite manufacturing capabilities and industry with the aim of being able to build and launch its own communications and Earth observation satellites, as well as scientific and technological testbed spacecraft.
According to an unnamed official from the Kazakh Ministry of Defence and Aerospace Industry who spoke on the condition of anonymity with Azerbaijan’s Trend News Agency, Kazakhstan’s current satellite capabilities were all built by British, French, and Russian manufacturers.
“Earth remote sensing space system currently includes two satellites Airbus Defence and Space (France) and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL, UK); Kazakhstan’s space communication system also includes two satellites, on-board equipment of which was developed with participation of various Russian and French companies. Kazakh space system for scientific and technological purposes was developed in cooperation with SSTL company and includes KazSTSat satellite,” the Kazakh official said.
Kazakhstan intends to develop the capacity and expertise to build its own geostationary orbit (GEO) communications satellites, Earth observation satellites with medium and high resolution imaging capability, as well as satellites and spacecraft for scientific missions and for the testing and validation of new technology.
To this end, Kazakhstan recently completed the establishment of its own national space and satellite design bureau, modeled on the Russian space industry approach, and a satellite manufacturing, assembly, integration, and testing (MAIT) facility in the country.
“Space technology design bureau is to be concerned with design, manufacturing of ground support equipment and spare parts for spacecrafts. Spacecraft’s assembling and testing complex will be concerned with full manufacturing cycle, starting from design to assembling and testing of the satellites weighted over 100 kg and below 6 tons, as well as manufacturing of spare parts for these satellites,” the Kazakh official said.
Kazakhstan is also home to the vast Baikonur Cosmodrome, much of which is leased out to Russia, and will enable the Central Asian state to launch its own satellites as well as design and manufacture them.
Despite its intention to design and manufacture its own satellites, however, Kazakhstan still values the knowledge and expertise of foreign satellite manufacturers such as Airbus Defence and Space, Thales Alenia Space, and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL).
“Furthermore, as the world’s satellite industry develops, use of space technologies expands. This is why we no doubt will take into account the experience of creating and operating satellites of foreign companies,” the Kazakh official told Trend. (Source: Google/https://spacewatch.global/)
05 Feb 20. L3Harris Technologies Passes Preliminary Design Review for Experimental Satellite Navigation. Program.
- Defines design baseline for U.S. Air Force’s Navigation Technology Satellite-3
- Demonstrates ability to move quickly for rapid acquisition prototype programs
- Allows L3Harris to continue development of newly named Air Force vanguard program
L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX) has reached a major milestone in the U.S. Air Force’s Navigation Technology Satellite-3 (NTS-3) project – passing the preliminary design review that defines the spacecraft’s path to delivery and allows the program to move to the next phase of development.
NTS-3 is an experimental program examining ways to improve the resiliency of the military’s positioning, navigation and timing capabilities. It will also develop key technologies relevant to the Global Positioning System (GPS) constellation, with the goal of future transition to the GPS IIIF program.
In collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Space and Missile Systems Center, and United States Space Force, L3Harris is combining experimental antennas, flexible and secure signals, increased automation, and use of commercial command and control assets.
“The NTS-3 vanguard is an experimental, end-to-end demonstration of agile, resilient space-based positioning, navigation, and timing,” said Arlen Biersgreen, Air Force NTS-3 Program Manager. “It has the potential for game-changing advancements to the way the Air Force provides these critical capabilities to warfighters across the Department of Defense. The commitment demonstrated by United States Space Force to partner with AFRL and support technology transition was a key element in NTS-3 being designated as an Air Force vanguard in September 2019.”
The Space Enterprise Consortium selected L3Harris for the $84-million contract in 2018 as the prime system integrator to design, develop, integrate and test NTS-3, including ground mission applications.
“We have moved from contract award to finishing an early design review in under one year, which is an amazing accomplishment for a satellite development program that normally takes twice that amount of time,” said Ed Zoiss, President, Space and Airborne Systems, L3Harris. “We have proven we can move quickly to support the Air Force’s go-fast mission requirements.”
L3Harris has more than 40 years of experience transmitting GPS navigation signals. The company’s technology has been onboard every GPS satellite ever launched. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
05 Feb 20. US military now unable to assess how vulnerable space systems are. The US military needs to understand far better how its satellites would perform under attack, the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) has warned. In the organisation’s latest annual report, DOT&E Robert Behler said the military was now unable to assess the durability of its satellites if they came under attack.
That’s changing with DOT&E looking to stand up comprehensive test procedures and infrastructure for assessing space systems.
Behler said the Department of Defense planned to invest at least US$100bn ($149bn) in space systems over coming decades.
Others including Australia were also making large investments in space.
“We therefore must thoroughly understand how our systems will perform in space, particularly when facing man-made threats,” he said in the introduction to the report.
“Yet, the DOD currently has no real means to assess adequately the operational effectiveness, suitability and survivability of space-based systems in a representative environment.”
DOT&E is well known for its uncompromising assessment of the shortcomings of major US defence programs such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The US Congress created this office in 1983 to provide an independent assessment of performance of major weapon systems.
Much of the latest report applies beyond the US military.
Behler noted that cyber security presented enormous challenges for the DOD.
Software and networks drive warfighting, training and business capabilities, and almost every weapon in the warfighter’s arsenal was software defined.
“…we are likelier to improve system lethality by installing new software than by modifying hardware. As always, accurate, trusted, timely information is the discriminator on the battlefield, but now all of it – data, voice, video – traverses a digital medium of some kind,” he said.
“This dependence on software and networks makes cyber security [test and evaluation] absolutely essential: a system cannot be deemed combat credible and survivable without understanding its cyber security posture.”
DOT&E has improved the realism and relevance of cyber tests and assessments.
“We repeatedly have identified cyber security threats and vulnerabilities as a major reason for determining a system was not survivable. However, overall, the DOD’s ability to test and evaluate cyber security is not keeping pace with the extremely high volume of complex systems and the aggressiveness of adversary attacks,” he said.
DOT&E is now trying to figure out how to test space systems.
“Space is critical to the nation’s security, economic prosperity, and scientific knowledge – and is now unquestionably a warfighting domain,” he said.
Behler said DOT in conjunction with the US Defense Department’s Test Management Resource Centre (TRMC) was actively pursuing creation of a space systems test capability.
This enduring infrastructure would enable test and evaluation of current and future DOD space systems by way of a space warfighting combined test force using a ground-based National Space Test and Training Range.
That would include cyber, directed-energy, kinetic and electronic warfare threats, as well as natural hazards.
“This multi-layered space [test and evaluation] capability is key to the DOD’s being able to demonstrate the true functionality, limitations, survivability and employment considerations of space systems,” he said.
“It would enable validation of space-based warfighting TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures) and development of multi-domain operating concepts. It also would provide more effective warfighter training, directly supporting the Secretary of Defense’s call for greater force readiness.” (Source: Space Connect)
04 Feb 20. US Air Force’s X-60A performs integrated vehicle propulsion system verification test. The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Generation Orbit recently performed X-60A hypersonic flight research vehicle integrated vehicle propulsion system verification ground testing.
The ground test campaign included both cold flow and hot fire testing with the Hadley liquid rocket engine developed by Ursa Major Technologies, Generation Orbit said in a 31 January statement. Flight-similar hardware was tested using flight-similar operational procedures. The test runs covered full duration burns, engine gimbaling for thrust vector control, and system throttling.
The X-60A is a single-stage, liquid, and air-launched rocket primarily designed for hypersonic flight research. It is being developed by Generation Orbit under an AFRL small business innovation research (SBIR) contract. The goal of the programme is to provide affordable and routine access to relevant hypersonic flight conditions for technology maturation, according to the AFRL.
The AFRL told Jane’s in April 2019 that it planned for X-60A to have its first test flight in March 2020 and to have its second flight six months later. Barry Hellman, AFRL X-60A programme manager, said in the AFRL statement that the laboratory hopes to demonstrate the vehicle’s capability to provide affordable access to hypersonic flight conditions.
This, Hellman said, will position the AFRL to deliver an innovative test capability for the US Air Force (USAF) and other Pentagon organisations. The X-60A can test a wide range of hypersonic technologies including airbreathing propulsion, advanced materials, and hypersonic vehicle subsystems. The X-60A is designed to provide affordable and regular access to high dynamic pressure flight conditions above Mach 5.
The upcoming flight test will take place at Cecil Spaceport in Jacksonville, Florida. The vehicle will be launched from a Gulfstream III carrier aircraft. (Source: Jane’s)
04 Feb 20. Improvements in Space Situational Awareness (SSA) may result from a unique collaborative experiment being conducted by The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and representatives from the Five-Eyes nations (UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). Two satellites are due to rendezvous for the experiment in near-Geostationary Orbit this month (February 2020).
Known as Phantom Echoes, the experiment aims to demonstrate how allied SSA sensors and processing capabilities can be integrated to enhance the performance over individual systems working independently to improve Space safety for UK and allied satellites in and near Geostationary Orbit. A combination of simulation and real-world events will be used to understand the strengths and constraints of each system that will advise the development of operational SSA architectures within the Coalition Space Operations (CSPO) initiative.
A cooperative observation campaign will be conducted using allied ground-based telescopes and Space-based sensors to observe the Northrop Grumman Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV) that was launched into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (at 36,000km altitude above Earth’s surface) on 09 October 2019 from Kazakhstan. The first of its kind, MEV will dock with a commercial communications satellite approximately 300km above geostationary orbit and provide manoeuvre capability that extends the lifetime of the host. The Phantom Echoes team will use this event to understand the challenges posed in observing this unique mission as the two satellite manoeuvre towards each other and perform docking operations.
04 Feb 20. NASA funds demonstration of assembly and manufacturing in space. NASA has awarded a $142m contract to Maxar Technologies to robotically assemble a communications antenna and manufacture a spacecraft beam in orbit. The technology demonstration is slated to take place on NASA’s Restore-L spacecraft, designed to service and refuel a satellite in low-Earth orbit. The Restore-L spacecraft will be modified to accommodate a payload called Space Infrastructure Dexterous Robot (SPIDER). The payload includes a lightweight 16-foot (five-metre) robotic arm.
Previously known as Dragonfly during the ground demonstration phase of the NASA Tipping Point partnership, SPIDER will assemble seven elements to form a functional nine-foot (three-metre) communications antenna. The robotically assembled antenna will demonstrate Ka-band transmission with a ground station.
The payload also will manufacture a 32-foot (10-meter) lightweight composite beam using technology developed by Tethers Unlimited of Bothell, Washington. The manufacturing element of the demonstration will verify the capability to construct large spacecraft structures in orbit.
Jim Reuter, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, explained, “We are continuing America’s global leadership in space technology by proving we can assemble spacecraft with larger and more powerful components, after launch. This technology demonstration will open up a new world of in-space robotic capabilities.”
The SPIDER payload team includes Maxar, Tethers Unlimited, West Virginia Robotic Technology Center in Morgantown, and NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
Brent Robertson, project manager of Restore-L at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, added, “In-space assembly and manufacturing will allow for greater mission flexibility, adaptability and resilience, which will be key to NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.”
The Restore-L project is developing a suite of technologies capable of refueling and servicing satellites in space. The spacecraft is currently targeted for launch in the mid-2020s.
Restore-L and SPIDER are administered by the Technology Demonstration Missions program based at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on behalf of the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.
The SPIDER payload is managed by the Restore-L project within the Exploration and In-Space Services (ExIS) projects division (formerly known as the Satellite Servicing Projects Division), located at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. (Source: Space Connect)
04 Feb 20. Better finances prove the trick as SAS moves to satellite launch and commercialisation. ASX-listed space company Sky and Space Global (SAS) has said that it’s on track for near-term commercialisation, with the company now in a substantially better financial position.
This follows receipt of a GBP1.425m (approximately $2.6m) rebate from the UK tax authority for a research and development tax claim made by the company’s wholly owned UK subsidiary for last financial year.
Releasing its December quarter report, SAS said it completed its non-renounceable entitlement offer during the quarter, raising gross proceeds of approximately $1.6m. SAS said this gave it important working capital. As at the end of December 2019, SAS had a cash balance of $1.79m.
The company remains in voluntary suspension from trading on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and expects the suspension to end once the capital raising is completed, two Australian resident directors are appointed and all ASX requirements are satisfied.
“In these challenging times for Sky and Space Global, we are pleased to have completed a quarter of activity that saw us through our entitlement issue and receive the R&D tax rebate,” said SAS chief executive officer Meir Moalem.
“This has given the company important working capital to fund our near-term objectives as we continue to advance towards funding and commercialisation.
“We would like to thank shareholders for their continued support, some of whom have been with us since we first listed in 2016. We are excited by the pipeline of commercial opportunities and potential customers that await us in the year ahead.”
SAS incorporated in the UK in 2015 and listed on the ASX in May 2016.
The company is based in Perth and is well advanced in plans for what it calls the Pearls constellation of as many as 200 nanosatellites in equatorial orbit, providing low-cost communications, data and internet services for markets in Africa, South America and Asia.
SAS is proposing an additional satellite constellation, allowing full global coverage, including Australia, Russia, China, South Africa, Argentina and Canada. The company has more than 50 agreements in place for use of its services.
In 2017, SAS Global launched three prototype satellites on an Indian rocket to test its technology. It plans to launch their first batch of nanosatellites in first quarter 2021, signalling the start of revenue generation.
SAS said that during the quarter, it had achieved two important technical milestones.
After securing a memorandum of understanding with internet of things (IoT) enterprise technology firm hereO in third quarter last year, SAS had integrated hereO’s Core IoT platform into the company’s existing 3 Diamonds nanosatellite narrow-band communication network.
That would ensure that the SAS proprietary network was both backwards compatible with millions of existing IoT devices and wireless WAN technologies, as well as able to seamlessly handle future IoT developments.
SAS had also started work on developing the SASNet Protocol, a proprietary communication protocol that ensures secure connectivity between end-user remote devices and their cloud application servers.
“These have been important technological milestones for the company as it continues to bolster its research and development capabilities and proceed towards the commercial delivery of its nanosatellite program,” SAS said. (Source: Space Connect)
03 Feb 20. Iran to launch satellite in programme that U.S. links to missiles. Iran will launch a satellite into orbit by the end of this week, a government minister said on Monday, as part of a fledging programme that the United States says is a cover for ballistic missile development.
“We are not afraid of failure and we will not lose hope. With your prayers and trust in God, the Zafar satellite by the end of this week … will be heading toward an orbit of 530 km from Earth,” Iranian Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi tweeted.
Iran had at least two failed satellite launches last year.
The United States fears long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used to launch nuclear warheads. Tehran denies that satellite activity is a cover for missile development and says it has never pursued the development of nuclear weapons.
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran following Washington’s 2018 withdrawal from an international accord designed to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
Trump said the nuclear deal did not go far enough and did not include restrictions on Tehran’s missile program.
Tensions have reached the highest level in decades between Iran and the United States after Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike on Jan. 3, prompting Iran to retaliate with a missile attack against a U.S. base in Iraq.
Iran launched its first satellite Omid (Hope) in 2009 and the Rasad (Observation) satellite was sent into orbit in June 2011. Tehran said in 2012 that it had successfully put its third domestically-made satellite Navid (Promise) into orbit. (Source: Reuters)
04 Feb 20. Rocket Lab successfully deploys NRO satellite for US government. Rocket Lab has successfully deployed a payload to orbit for the National Reconnaissance Office in the company’s 11th Electron mission, from the company’s New Zealand launch site.
Space company Rocket Lab has successfully launched a secret payload for the United States National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).
The Rocket Lab Electron rocket blasted off from the company’s Launch Complex One on the Māhia Peninsula of New Zealand’s north island late Friday afternoon local time.
This was Rocket Lab’s 11th Electron mission, the first launch for 2020 and the first dedicated launch of an NRO payload from New Zealand.
The mission, titled “Birds of a Feather”, was completely successful with the payload deployed into orbit.
The NRO selected Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket for the mission through a competitively awarded contract under the Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR) contract.
RASR allows the NRO to explore new launch opportunities that can provide a streamlined, commercial approach for getting small satellites into space.
The NRO develops and launches the US intelligence satellites. Consequently, nothing has been revealed about the satellite to be launched on Birds of a Feather.
Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck said starting the 2020 launch manifest with a successful mission for the NRO was an immensely proud moment for the team.
“It once again demonstrated our commitment to providing responsive, dedicated access to space for government small satellites,” he said.
“Thank you to the NRO for selecting Electron for this historic mission, and congratulations to the Rocket Lab team on another flawless launch that continues our heritage of 100 per cent mission success for customers.”
The primary objective of this launch was to deploy the NRO payload to its final orbit, which was achieved as planned.
Rocket Lab also achieved a secondary objective by conducting another guided re-entry of Electron’s first stage in a step towards the company’s goal of reusing its rocket boosters.
This was the second time Rocket Lab has guided an Electron first stage booster down to sea level and following the first successful re-entry test conducted on the Running Out of Fingers mission in December.
Rocket Lab said initial analysis indicated the stage made it back to sea level intact following a guided descent, proving that Electron can withstand the immense heat and forces generated on re-entry.
To direct the stage to a planned splashdown, Electron’s first stage was equipped with guidance and navigation hardware, including S-band telemetry and onboard flight computer systems.
The stage was also equipped with a reaction control system to orient the booster 180-degrees for its descent and keep it dynamically stable for the re-entry.
The Birds of a Feather launch kicked off a busy year of activity for Rocket Lab, with monthly Electron launches through the year.
This will include the first US mission from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 2 in Wallops, Virginia.
Construction is also under way on a third launch pad at the New Zealand Launch Complex and at the new Rocket Lab Headquarters and Production Complex in Long Beach, California.
“2020 will also see the first launch of Rocket Lab’s in-house designed and built Photon satellites, a significant step towards offering beyond low-Earth orbit capabilities, including lunar orbits for small satellites,” the company said. (Source: Space Connect)
03 Feb 20. Maxar Technologies Will Build Next-Generation Intelsat Epic Geostationary Communications Satellite with NASA Hosted Payload.
Intelsat (NYSE: I) has selected Maxar Technologies (NYSE:MAXR) (TSX:MAXR), a trusted partner and innovator in Earth Intelligence and Space Infrastructure, to manufacture Intelsat 40e, a next-generation geostationary communications satellite scheduled to launch in 2022. Maxar will integrate NASA’s Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) payload with the Intelsat 40e satellite.
“When it’s launched, Intelsat 40e will be the newest addition to our next-generation Intelsat Epic platform, which is already providing our global customers with flexible, high-performance connectivity they can count on today – and in the future,” said Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler. “Intelsat continuously invests in innovative new satellite and hybrid technologies that make it easy and affordable for our customers to connect people, devices and networks, even in the most remote locations. We look forward to partnering with Maxar on this next build.”
Based on Maxar’s proven 1300-class satellite platform and Intelsat Epic, Intelsat 40e will provide Intelsat customers across North and Central America with flexible, high-throughput, “coast-to-coast” coverage. The additional capacity will also support the growing number of customers utilizing Intelsat managed-service offerings, including those working with Intelsat to solve connectivity challenges for commercial and private planes, moving vehicles on land and other mobility applications.
In 2019, NASA selected Maxar to host its TEMPO payload utilizing the Space and Missile Systems Center Hosted Payload Solutions (HoPS) contract vehicle. Now that Maxar has identified Intelsat 40e as the satellite, the company will begin the integration process. TEMPO is a UV-visible spectrometer that will detect pollutants by measuring sunlight reflected and scattered from the Earth’s surface and atmosphere. The resulting data from TEMPO will be used to enhance air-quality forecasts in North America, enabling the more effective early public warning of pollution incidents. The combined Intelsat 40e and TEMPO programs are expected to be accretive to Maxar’s earnings and cash flow on an annual basis throughout the production process.
“Maxar and Intelsat have a strategic partnership that goes back more than 40 years, and we are honored to have been chosen for Intelsat 40e – the 54th satellite that Maxar will build for Intelsat over the course of our long and successful history together,” said Maxar CEO Dan Jablonsky. “Maxar is also honored to have collaborated with NASA for more than 50 years, and we are excited to leverage our strong legacy in bridging commercial and government needs to integrate the agency’s TEMPO payload with Intelsat 40e. Maxar’s recent work with NASA on TEMPO and several other Space Infrastructure missions demonstrate positive momentum for our expanding civil space portfolio.” (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
03 Feb 20. Southern Launch plans for new rocket range in SA outback. South Australian space company Southern Launch, which plans to conduct its first commercial launches later this year, is now developing a rocket test range in the state’s far west. This could be the world’s largest privately operated rocket range and would be used to trial rockets for commercial launch from the planned Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex on the Eyre Peninsula.
Southern Launch said the proposed Koonibba Test Range was located on Aboriginal land around 40 kilometres north-west of Ceduna and would extend 145 kilometres over uninhabited national park.
Already a customer has signed up to have rockets tested. These will only be sub-orbital launches and rockets won’t reach orbit.
That could be Korean space company Perigee Aerospace, which plans to launch its first rocket from the new Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex in July.
The company, backed by tech giant Samsung, will launch its Blue Whale 1 on its maiden flight carrying a dummy payload to prove their two-stage rocket works.
Once proven, a second launch planned for early 2021 will place a 50-kilogram payload into orbit.
Southern Launch plans to launch up to 40 times a year.
Last year, the South Australian government granted the Whalers Way facility major project status.
From Whalers Way, rockets will head south over the ocean into polar orbit. Southern Launch chief executive Lloyd Damp said the test range was over land, giving customers the ability to recover their rockets to perform further testing and systems validation.
“You can go and pick them up afterwards and visibly go and inspect the components or retrieve space telescopes and the likes,” he told the ABC.
“This means companies and universities can get very, very involved in doing space research in Australia.”
“We’re working with different companies, universities, organisations and space agencies around the world, so that they can bring their rockets to the site, and we help them get all the permits and they can then do a safe launch and recover their payloads and rockets.”
Mr Damp said their first launch from the test site was for a paying customer, “which is fantastic for Australia, because it shows a true belief in Australia as a space-capable nation”.
To develop the range, Southern Launch has consulted with local Aboriginal groups, farmers and local councils and has all the approvals it needs to use the site.
Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation chairperson Kevina Ware said some locals were hesitant when the plans were first presented.
But after working with Southern Launch, the Indigenous community was now onboard, she said.
“They soon reassured us that everything was OK, you know, no chemicals were going to affect our community and outlying areas, so we were quite happy with that,” she told ABC. “We’ll be the first First Nations community to host a commercial space launch. That in itself is history. It’ll put us on the map. We’re pretty excited for that.”
Southern Launch now just needs launch approvals from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the Australian Space Agency. (Source: Space Connect)
03 Feb 20. Aussie astronomers to support UK defence scientists with satellite tracking. The UK has launched an interesting experiment in which its defence scientists plus amateur astronomers from Australia will track operational and retired satellites in geostationary orbit.
The UK government said Argus 2 was the latest phase of a citizen science exercise to assess the viability of tracking of objects in space using commercially available cameras and lenses.
“The experiment is designed to explore affordable options for Space Situational Awareness, the process of tracking objects in orbit and predicting their future paths to help mitigate the risks to UK satellites posed by collisions with debris,” it said.
On the UK side will be scientists from the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).
In Argus 1, they collaborated with the Basingstoke Astronomical Society in the UK to track objects in low-Earth orbit 400 kilometres above the Earth.
Dstl scientists developed automated image processing tools and in-house orbit estimation software to analyse the large amount of data captured and learned valuable lessons on space surveillance.
For Argus 2, members of the Tamworth Regional Astronomy Club (TRAC) in NSW will observe satellites from the Southern Hemisphere.
That’s to ensure results are consistent with those captured by the Basingstoke amateur astronomers and to examine the benefits and challenges of processing observations from two sites.
To track objects in geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometres above the Earth, the Aussie astronomers will be using one of the only two historic 34-inch Hewitt camera/telescopes designed by the UK Radar Research Establishment in the late 1950s to monitor the early generation of satellites.
That came to Australia in the 1960s when the UK was conducting its space program from the South Australian outback. Its twin is in the Greenwich observatory in London.
As part of the project, they will also be observing redundant satellites, which have reached the end of their operational life.
In accordance with international guidelines, such satellites are moved 300 kilometres above GEO to the so-called graveyard orbit. Once there, they cannot directly collide with operational satellites in GEO.
However, long-term motion of these satellites is unknown. Argus 2 aims to better understand the evolution of the debris population.
Dstl space program manager Mike O’Callaghan said space situational awareness was fundamental to protecting the operation and security of satellites.
“As space becomes more crowded, the likelihood of collisions increases,” he said.
“By observing current satellites, we can help predict how they may behave in future and design measures to avoid collision. The data gathered with BAS was extremely useful, and we look forward to adding a new dimension with the Australians.”
Trevor Gainey from BAS added: “We enjoyed participating in the original Argus 1 project and testing our observational skills. We have more members interested in this follow-on project, so we are hoping for clear skies.”
TRAC spokesman Phil Betts, who is also Tamworth’s deputy mayor, said the club was delighted to contribute to this important work, which also has the backing of the Department of Defence.
Members will use a variety of equipment, ranging from their own cameras and telescopes to the club’s recently restored and upgraded Hewitt Camera.
“The Argus 2 project provides TRAC members with a great opportunity to use their observational skills and equipment for this important research program and may pave the way for similar pro/am and citizen science collaborations in the future,” he said.
The Tamworth Regional Astronomy Club Inc is a group of keen, local amateur astronomers in the Tamworth region of NSW with the aim of promoting the science of astronomy.
The club has been inspired by the Lowe Observatory located near Tamworth in the Moonbi Ranges at Bendemeer and the club’s acquisition of several large quality telescopes.
The club’s goal is to provide educational opportunities for people of all ages to learn more about astronomy. It conducts regular monthly meetings and observing nights through large optical telescopes and other educational activities and social events.
The club was established in 2015, become an incorporated, not-for-profit organisation in January 2016 and has been accepted by Tamworth Regional Council as a Section 355 Committee.
Under the Section 355 arrangements, the club is planning to develop an Astronomy and Science Education Centre and Planetarium Theatre and also a Roll-off Roof observatory at Victoria Park in the Botanical Gardens precinct located in East Tamworth. (Source: Space Connect)
03 Feb 20. Germany signs up for multinational Combined Space Operations Initiative. The German military has formally signed on to the Combined Space Operations Initiative (CSpO), joining the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Germany is aiming to boost its space surveillance through joining CSpO and through boosting its own capabilities, with an 80 per cent increase in personnel devoted to space situational awareness in the new Centre for Space Operations by 2025.
France, another significant space nation, is also expected to sign on to CSpO.
The memorandum of understanding signed by Germany to join CSpO sets the administrative framework for cooperation to develop the best possible basis for common space operations.
The German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, said space was changing, with both the traffic density and the number of actors in space increasing.
“This also increases the number of weapon systems that are currently under development or already ready for use and that are aimed specifically at space objects or the services they provide, for example, satellite communication and satellite navigation,” it said.
“As a result, in addition to the established dimensions of land, air, sea and cyber, the dimension of space has gained considerably in security policy.
“For our society, it is now an integral part of everyday life to use services and products from space – without ever noticing it.”
“That is why it is an ongoing task for the Bundeswehr to use space. It has long been indispensable for both basic operation and use. This makes the military contribution to space security an important building block in state security.”
The Combined Space Operations Centre (CSpOC), located at Vandenberg US Air Force Base, provides command and control of US space forces and also coordinates space operations with US allies and commercial space organisations.
“Space location and space operations are only possible in an international context,” said German Air Force Brigadier General Burkhard Pototzky.
“For the Air Force, it is now a matter of consistently pressing ahead with the expansion and development of capabilities in the areas of space, as well as the planning and management of space operations, in order to make an active contribution and remain recognized as an international partner.”
To expand space capability for the Bundeswehr, the German Air Force is increasing its role in the German Aerospace Centre, based in Cologne.
This creates the space situation picture, warning satellite operators of possible collision risks and advising the Bundeswehr. This happens primarily on the basis of American data. Germany is proposing to establish its own sensors to collect its own space location data. (Source: Space Connect)
31 Jan 20. Site expansion doubles satellite factory capacity and creates new jobs. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) held a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday to highlight its expansion of the company’s satellite engineering and manufacturing operations in Arizona. The expansion includes a 100,000 square foot addition to its existing satellite manufacturing facility and a new 120,000 square foot administrative and engineering building.
“Today’s groundbreaking event marks an expansion that is expected to create full-time, high-wage jobs locally with potential for additional job growth,” said Frank DeMauro, vice president and general manager, tactical space systems, Northrop Grumman. “This expansion also continues the long history of developing innovative aerospace products in the Gilbert area that help customers achieve mission success while creating new aerospace jobs in the region.”
These facilities enable the site to meet projected business growth and increased customer demand for high-quality, flight-proven satellites for NASA and the Department of Defense, as well as commercial and international customers.
“Arizona is proud to be a leader in aerospace and defense, and Northrop Grumman is a big part of that success,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “Today’s announcement will mean more good jobs in fields like engineering, manufacturing and technology. We’re grateful for their continued investment and expansion in Arizona.”
The expansion will double the current production capacity at the satellite manufacturing facility, which is one of the largest and most advanced satellite assembly and test facilities in the United States. The new administrative and engineering building will be a two-story structure complementing an existing office facility built three years ago.
Located approximately 15 miles east of Phoenix, Northrop Grumman’s Gilbert Campus produces satellites for a variety of domestic and international customers. Northrop Grumman’s satellite business began in Gilbert in the early 1990’s and has grown significantly with a state-of-the-art facility that provides design, manufacturing, assembly, integration and testing in support of high profile satellite missions. Programs under production include critical science missions such as NASA’s Landsat 9 and Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) satellites in addition to other programs that support our national security.
29 Jan 20. Booz Allen Hamilton’s $178m Contract to Modernize U.S. Naval Information Warfare Center’s GPS. The U.S. Navy’s Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC Pacific), in partnership with the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), has awarded Booz Allen Hamilton (NYSE: BAH) a $178m contract to provide technical engineering services toward the modernization of advanced Global Positioning System (GPS) systems.
The NIWC Pacific Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Division is the Navy’s principal research and development center for navigation sensors and systems. SMC is the center of technical excellence for developing, acquiring, fielding, and sustaining resilient and affordable military space systems. By executing this contract, Booz Allen will continue to serve as a key mission partner for NIWC Pacific and SMC on the important endeavor of modernizing PNT systems for U.S. and Allied warfighters.
In order to execute this highly complex scope of work, Booz Allen will provide a range of essential services, including system definition, requirements synchronization, capability improvement, cybersecurity engineering, platform integration and testing, and acquisition program management. Specifically, Booz Allen’s work will aid in the development and modernization of GPS systems through major programs such as Military GPS User Equipment, GPS III, and Next Generation Operational Control System.
Company VP, Brian Zimmermann, said the company’s robust track record of work in both systems engineering and cybersecurity continues to inspire trust from the firm’s clients. Booz Allen Hamilton’s deep bench of leaders and technical experts reassures clients that no project is too big or too complex. It is the firm’s privilege to help the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force modernize GPS systems that are so vital to the security of the nation. (Source: Satnews)
28 Jan 20. UK to Launch £5bn Galileo Replacement as MoD Identifies EU ‘Security Flaw.’ BREXIT has presented an opportunity for the UK Space Agency to deliver a “major programme” for a UK Galileo replacement in partnership with the Ministry of Defence, who identified an issue with using the European Union’s “secure elements,” Express.co.uk can exclusively reveal.
Galileo is Europe’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), built to rival the US GPS system that will be used for military defence and critical national infrastructure purposes. Among the most crucial parts of the system is the Public Regulated Service (PRS), an encrypted navigation service used by government agencies, the armed forces and emergency services, but the EU insists access to this will only be for the bloc’s members when it becomes “fully operational” in 2026. The MoD, however, has claimed it pulled the plug on collaboration for any part of the system when Brussels blocked British contracts from the production of components.
Express.co.uk previously revealed how UK companies were “at the heart” of the entire system development, building “essentially the brains” to the satellites, after papers showed Surrey Satellite Technology Limited in Guildford provided 22 navigation payloads between 2014 and 2016, integrating a pan-European supply of components, including the “Swiss atomic clocks” that “drive Galileo’s signals”.
The company has existing contractswith the EU expiring this year but, after that, it will not be allowed to provide the “main components” for Galileo anymore, so the MoD has turned its attention back home, identifying this as a security flaw. A spokeswoman told Express.co.uk: “Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) are increasingly crucial to our daily lives, with positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) services that they provide underpinning a wide range of essential public services, Critical National Infrastructure, National Security, defence interests and the wider digital economy.
Recent estimates indicate that over 11 percent of the UK’s GDP is directly supported by satellite navigation systems and the Blackett review estimated that a failure of service could cost the UK economy £1bn a day.
“British armed forces were due to have access to Galileo’s encrypted system when it is fully operational in 2026.
“However HMG has concluded it would not be in the UK’s security interests to use the system’s secure elements if it had not been fully involved in their development.
“Therefore, the UK Space Agency is leading a major programme to deliver options for a UK GNSS capability, working in partnership with the MoD to produce cost, schedule and design analysis which will inform a final investment decision for a UK GNSS.”
The vulnerability of Galileo has already been exposed, after a week-long outage in July saw the EU beg the US to use their GPS service for non-military needs, leaving the bloc essentially exposed to space threats from the likes of Russia, China and Iran, who have all stepped up military satellite capabilities in the last few months.
But the MoD will avoid this issue altogether, by making the GNSS system “fully compatible” with GPS, while also “strengthening relationships” with other Five Eyes partners who may be allowed access too.
A spokesman added to Express.co.uk: “Benefits from a UK GNSS would include increased resilience for our Critical National infrastructure and National Security, a stronger and diverse space sector with major new export opportunities for UK firms, strengthened relationships with overseas partners, and new high-tech jobs across the country.
“In 2018, when commissioning options, Prime Minister Theresa May set out that the British system must be compatible with the US GPS system.
“In response to the strategic challenges facing the UK space enterprise, the Prime Minister has established a National Space Council to coordinate Government’s interests and take strategic decisions.”
Science Minister Chris Skidmore previously revealed to Express.co.uk details for the new system, which will be unveiled to the public in as little as two months.
He said: “£92m was announced about a year ago, that was to scope out what the system will look like and we had 50 companies that have been involved in the process so far.
“The UK Space Agency won’t let me go into detail about the specific companies, but next year, around March time, there will be a £5bn programme announced.
“This will be through a number of stages. We would want it fully delivered by 2030 but the first satellites would go up by 2025.
“That’s where we are with our GNSS programme, we’ve put in the orders for the atomic clocks which need to be purchased and there’s a waiting time for those.”
Today, Boris Johnson will also sure up plans first floated to Express.co.uk by Mr Skidmore to “roll out the red carpet” and attract the world’s best scientists, researchers and mathematicians to the UK after leaving the EU on Friday at 11pm.
Mr Johnson has pledged to offer a new “supercharged” visa scheme, removing the cap on Tier 1 visas for exceptional talent, at the same time as clamping down on less-skilled migrants.
It comes after the triggering of Article 50 threatens the freedom of movement for 3.2 million EU nationals living in the UK, many of them working on groundbreaking science projects, possibly including a GNSS system which promises to create thousands of job opportunities.
Mr Johnson has placed space innovation at the forefront of his plans, shown by the setting up of a National Space Council to adapt to new threats, including the possibility of creating a Space Command, like Donald Trump’s Space Force.
Former MoD minister Tobias Ellwood touched on the programme during a video released during his campaign for the Bournemouth East seat in December.
He said: “Without GPS we’d lose sight of the threat picture, control of our drones and missiles and early warning systems.
“So if satellites suddenly failed to work, the impact on all our lives would be colossal.
“With falling costs and advancing technologies, we now see space as the extinction of Earth.
“But, right now, there are no agreed rules and space has become the ultimate high ground from which you can harass your enemy.
“The weaponisation of space is already happening, Russia has tested space-based cannons during the Cold War and is developing anti-satellite missiles.”
Mr Ellwood continued by pointing out the need for a Space Command.
He added: “China and Russia are investing in military satellites that can use lasers and high-powered microwaves to damage other satellites.
“What easier way to destruct our way of life than by zapping our satellites, especially if you can’t get caught.
“In our lifetime, space will get busier, more competitive and potentially more dangerous.
“That’s why we need to create a UK Space Command to protect our assets and lead our allies in establishing what the new rules for space should be before it’s too late.” (Source: Satnews/Express.co.uk )
23 Jan 20. On-Orbit Tests for EDRS-C Completed — Airbus Now in Control. The second satellite in the European Data Relay System has reached its intended orbit and completed its on-orbit tests.
Dubbed the “SpaceDataHighway” by its commercial operator Airbus, EDRS uses innovative laser technology to enable Earth-observation satellites to deliver their information to users on the ground in near real-time, accelerating responses to emergency situations and spurring the development of new services and products.
EDRS-C is the second satellite in the system and was launched on 6 August.
After being delivered into its initial orbit by an Ariane 5 launcher, EDRS-C made its way to its final geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometres above Earth through five liquid apogee engine burns and a few relocation maneuvers. The satellite has been thoroughly tested to ensure that all its components are operating as expected.
Control of the satellite has now been handed over to Airbus. In the coming months, the performance of its laser communication terminal will be fine-tuned as part of the nominal test sequence. To do so, several links are scheduled with the Copernicus program’s four Sentinel Earth observation satellites.
Commercial service is expected to start in the spring.
The satellite also hosts a commercial payload operated by British satellite operator Avanti that is about to start delivering communications services.
EDRS is a public–private partnership between ESA and Airbus as part of ESA’s efforts to federate industry around large-scale programs, stimulating technology developments to achieve economic benefits.
The first satellite in the EDRS network, EDRS-A, was launched in January 2016. Since then it has transmitted 1.7 petabytes of data, equivalent to binge watching almost 20,000 ultra-HD 4k films, 24 hours a day, for nearly four-and-a-half years. The data was transmitted via almost 30,000 optical, inter-satellite links established with the Copernicus program’s four Sentinel EO satellites. (Source: Satnews)
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