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21 May 20. Space Force completes enterprise review of missile warning systems. The head of the U.S. Space Force said the service recently completed an enterprise review of the military’s missile warning, missile defense architecture and noted he was “extremely pleased” with how it was received by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council.
“We just pulled together a very broad team, made up of organizations around the Department of Defense and did an enterprise level review of our missile warning, missile tracking, missile defense architectures and briefed the JROC on that just a couple of weeks ago. That went extremely well,” said Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond. He elaborated that the effort would “make sure everybody is rolling in the same direction, reducing duplication of effort and saving money for Americans.”
Raymond made the announcement during a Defense Writers Group conference call with members of the media May 20.
While Raymond declined to discuss the details of the review or his interactions with the JROC, he said it was an important step to ensuring the various organizations within the Department of Defense were on the same page in developing space-based missile warning systems. With the establishment of U.S. Space Command, the Space Force, and the Space Development Agency over the last year and a half, there are now several groups working to maintain and upgrade the nation’s space-based missile warning systems.
“There’s lot of different organizations that have pieces of this. Obviously the Space and Missiles Systems Center (SMC) in Los Angeles has a piece of this, the Missile Defense Agency has a piece of it, the Space Development Agency has a piece of it,” said Raymond. “What we’ve effectively done is pull that team together, and in doing so took a look at the entire enterprise and looked at how that enterprise fits together, what’s the proper architecture, how do you align that to make key decisions and what time frame do you have to make those key decisions”
All of those organizations have taken significant steps in recent days toward upgrading the nation’s missile warning architecture.
On May 18, SMC issued a $2.4bn contract to Northrop Grumman to develop and build two Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared satellites, which will detect ballistic missiles over the polar regions. Those two satellites are part of an initial five satellite constellation, with Lockheed Martin already working on three geosynchronous space vehicles. The U.S. Air Force used a series of reprogramming requests in 2019 to push more money to the effort earlier, hoping that the first satellite would be delivered in 2025.
And the Space Development Agency recently released a draft Request for Proposals for eight Wide Field of View satellites that will be able to track hypersonic weapons from low Earth orbit. Those satellites are expected to be put on orbit in fiscal 2022 as part of the agency’s plans to build a new national security space architecture in low Earth orbit made up of hundreds of satellites performing a variety of functions. The MDA is a key partner in that effort.
“There’s multiple organizations that have a role in this enterprise, and really what we’ve done is integrated these multiple approaches in a manner that allows us to move forward together, and as capabilities are developed to continue to refine our approach,” said Raymond.
Raymond declined to say what redundancies, if any, he been resolved due to the review, though he noted that the JROC seemed satisfied with the effort. Raymond further praised Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Hyten, who chairs the JROC, for his leadership on missile warning and missile defense.
“They approved our overall approach, taking an enterprise look and bringing those pieces together,” said Raymond. “There will be decision points going forward as we continue to develop those capabilities, and we’ll bring them back to the JROC at the appropriate time.” (Source: Defense News)
21 May 20. Space Command takes over Operation Olympic Defender. The recently reestablished U.S. Space Command is officially taking over Operation Olympic Defender — a U.S. Strategic Command effort to cooperate with America’s closest allies in space.
“This is a major milestone for the newly established command,” said Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, the head of Space Force. “As the threats in the space domain continue to evolve, it is important we leverage and synchronize capabilities with our allies not only to understand each other’s national perspectives, but to work seamlessly together to optimize our multinational space efforts.”
Under Operation Olympic Defender, America is leading a coalition of allied space-faring nations to work together to deter hostile acts in space, strengthen deterrence against hostile actors and reduce the spread of debris orbiting Earth. The operation is centered at SPACECOM’s Combined Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
The Air Force is officially relaunching a competition to find a home for U.S. Space Command, with a wide set of criteria that could allow dozens of cities to enter the race.
While Operation Olympic Defender was technically transitioned to SPACECOM when it was established in August 2019, the new command opted to wait until it was more mature.
“We just signed that order from U.S. Space Command … fully transferring that out of U.S. Strategic Command’s purview and into Space Command,” Raymond told reporters in a May 20 Defense Writers Group conference call.
The need for cooperation with allies in space is more important than ever with the increased congestion of the domain and the growing number of anti-satellite threats displayed by adversaries, according to SPACECOM.
“Our operations and activities in the warfighting domain of space are becoming ever more complex, due to adversary anti-satellite missile threats, electromagnetic inference of many kinds, new ‘mega constellations,’ human space flight, and the thousands of pieces of near-earth space debris traveling ten times faster than the average bullet speed,” said Maj. Gen. John Shaw, the head of Combined Force Space Component Command. “Given this increasing complexity, and the ascending importance of the space domain to our nations’ economies and security, it is essential we work together as an Allied team to synchronize our space activities and respond collectively to threats in, to, and through space.”
The United Kingdom was the first nation to enter the coalition, joining Operation Olympic Defender in July. The U.K. has assigned personnel to the Combined Space Operations Center, and last year a Royal Air Force officer was the first coalition partner to sign the weekly Combined Space Tasking Order.
Separate from Operation Olympic Defender, SPACECOM has continued to make inroads with other countries.
“We just signed a space situational awareness sharing agreement with Peru,” Raymond told reporters May 20. “I think this is our 35th nation that we’ve signed a sharing agreement with. International partnerships are absolutely critical to us. I’ve seen great progress being made and we’re going to continue to build those partnerships that are going to be beneficial for all.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
22 May 20. Aerojet Rocketdyne delivers DART spacecraft propulsion systems. The dual chemical and electric propulsion systems for NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) were recently delivered by Aerojet Rocketdyne to the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland.
The chemical propulsion system and the electric propulsion Xenon feed system have been undergoing assembly and integration onto the spacecraft structure at Aerojet Rocketdyne’s facility in Redmond, Washington, since August 2019.
APL – designing, building and managing the mission for NASA – will now begin integration of the rest of the subsystems and final test of the spacecraft ahead of next year’s launch for the mission.
Propelled by Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion, the DART spacecraft will be the first demonstration of a kinetic impactor: a spacecraft deliberately targeted to strike an asteroid at high speed in order to change the asteroid’s motion in space.
The asteroid target is Didymos, a binary near-Earth asteroid that consists of Didymos A and a smaller asteroid orbiting it called Didymos B. After launch, DART will fly to Didymos and use an onboard targeting system to aim and impact itself on Didymos B. Earth-based telescopes will then measure the change in orbit of Didymos B around Didymos A.
Eileen Drake, president and CEO of Aerojet Rocketdyne, said, “DART plays an important role in understanding if it is possible to deflect asteroids and change their orbits. Our chemical propulsion system will help the spacecraft reach its destination and impact its target, while our electric propulsion system will demonstrate its capability for future applications.”
DART is set to launch in late July 2021 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, intercepting Didymos’ secondary body in late September 2022. The spacecraft’s chemical propulsion system is comprised of 12 MR-103G hydrazine thrusters, each with 0.2 pounds of thrust. The system will conduct a number of trajectory correction manoeuvres during the spacecraft’s roughly 14-month cruise to Didymos, controlling its speed and direction. As the DART spacecraft closes in on the asteroid, its chemical propulsion system will conduct last minute direction changes to ensure it accurately impacts its target.
In addition to providing the chemical propulsion system for the spacecraft, Aerojet Rocketdyne’s NEXT-C (NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster – Commercial) system will also be demonstrated on the mission. NEXT-C is a next-generation solar electric propulsion system designed and built by Aerojet Rocketdyne based on mission-proven technology developed at NASA’s Glenn Research Centre.
The NEXT-C system completed acceptance and integration testing at NASA Glenn in February. With a successful in-flight test of this next generation of ion engine technology, DART will demonstrate its potential for application to future NASA missions and may make use of NEXT-C for two of the planned spacecraft trajectory correction manoeuvres.
Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, is a world-recognised aerospace and defence leader that provides propulsion systems and energetics to the space, missile defence and strategic systems, and tactical systems areas, in support of domestic and international customers. (Source: Space Connect)
22 May 20. Australia, New Zealand stand to benefit from major ESA advances in satellite navigation. The European Space Agency has awarded two contracts to Thales Alenia Space, a joint company between Thales and Leonardo, for the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service – EGNOS.
These contracts draw on Thales Alenia Space’s 25 years of expertise as a prime contractor to study and develop upgrades for the EGNOS satellite navigation system and support the $127m upgrade of the Thales Alenia Space EGNOS system announced in December 2019, which will expand the EGNOS SBAS coverage zone, see the installation of a new generation of reference stations, improved algorithms in the computation centre to boost performance and enhanced system security.
Benoit Broudy, head of the navigation business at Thales Alenia Space, said, “Our successes on export markets, as in South Korea, validate our innovative approach that allows us to offer increasingly powerful and agile solutions to meet the evolving requirements of customers from around the world.”
These advances offer significant benefits for regional aviation in Australia and New Zealand along with broader industry benefits across many sectors including, mining and resources as well as agriculture and transport.
The first contract concerns possible upgrades for EGNOS aeronautical services, designed to improve performances in order to increase landing safety under limited visibility conditions (from current CAT-I to CAT-II), over EGNOS’s European footprint.
“Today’s contracts are key for satellite navigation in Europe and bolster Thales Alenia Space’s European leadership in state-of-the-art satellite navigation systems, including Safety of Life services,” Broudy said.
RAIM is already deployed and assesses the integrity of signals in the receivers that are part of a global positioning system, mainly GPS.
Galileo will now be incorporated in the advanced version of this concept to provide enhanced horizontal guidance performance. This would provide “Safety of Life” aeronautical services, including approaches with vertical guidance, thanks to inputs from GPS and Galileo via EGNOS.
EGNOS, a European Union flagship program, is a satellite navigation system designed to improve positioning signals delivered by GPS. Developed by Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor, EGNOS was first deployed in 2005, began operating in open service mode in 2009 and provided Safety of Life service starting in 2011.
The GNSS R&D activities are financed by the European Commission H2020 program. They are managed by the European Space Agency through a delegation agreement from the European Commission.
The EGNOS Safety of Life service is used to carry out precision airport approaches, especially landings, without requiring ground guidance systems. Building on its expertise in this field, Thales Alenia Space won a contract in 2016 from the Korean space agency to supply the Korean Augmentation Satellite System (KASS).
With its Safety of Life capability, KASS is a regional Korean navigation system that will initially be used for aviation. It will provide critical services at several points of each flight, especially landing, so that airports no longer need ground landing aid facilities. (Source: Space Connect)
20 May 20. Space Acquisition Report For Congress ‘Imminent’: Raymond. Raymond said that DoD, the Space Force and the Air Force are still in the planning stages for the acquisition field command, and “are evaluating just what’s the right way to do this to enable the strengths of SDA, and others like Space Rapid Capabilities Office, and the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office.”
The long-awaited report to Congress on space acquisition will be released “within days,” Gen. Jay Raymond says — after languishing almost two months past it’s due date on Secretary of Defense Mark Esper’s desk.
Raymond provided scant details about the contents of the acquisition report that will recommend a “new process purpose built for space,” as required under the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act
However, in his briefing to journalists this afternoon organized by the Defense Writers Group, Ray confirmed the report will discuss how DoD’s Space Development Agency (SDA) should work with other space acquisition entities that fall under the purview of the Space Force, including the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and the Space Rapid Capabilities Office (SRCO). The NDAA mandates that SDA has to be subsumed by the Space Force by October 2022, but as Breaking D readers know, the Space Force doesn’t expect a final DoD decision on how to do that until next year.
“One of my key priorities is to drive unity of effort across the department,” said Raymond, who is doubled hatted as head of Space Force and Space Command. “We’re on the final stages of planning, both what the headquarters looks like at the Pentagon and what the field commands look like. One of the field commands obviously is going to be focused on acquisition, and we have not yet finalized that.”
Raymond elaborated that DoD, the Space Force and the Air Force are still in the planning stages for the acquisition field command, but “are evaluating just what’s the right way to do this to enable the strengths of SDA, and others like Space Rapid Capabilities Office, and the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office.”
“We’re looking at multiple options to be able to maximize unity of effort, but also keeping the attributes that makes the different organizations different and successful,” he said.
DoD, Air Force and Space Force officials continue to wrangle over how to set up space acquisition authorities — in particular the role of the congressionally-mandated space acquisition executive under the Space Force. The report to Congress will punt on that issue due to internal disagreements, with Air Force acquisition czar Will Roper particularly opposed to a bifurcation of air and space acquisition authority. Instead, the report will concentrate on the type of legal acquisition methodologies the Space Force can use in future, for example including rapid-prototyping authorities.
Raymond suggested that the use of high-level architectures to map out roles and activities is one way to ensure that everyone “is rowing in the same direction” in the near term.
One such architecture recently completed, he said, covers the missile warning, tracking and defense “enterprise” across the Space Force, the Missile Defense Agency and SDA. The organizations briefed the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC), headed by Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten, on their plan “just a couple of weeks ago,” he said — adding that the briefing “went very well.”
He noted that one of the key goals of the new architecture is to avoid “duplication of effort” and reduce costs.
As Breaking D readers know, DoD is now debating whether MDA’s space acquisition efforts — or even MDA en masse — also ought to be folded into the Space Force.
Raymond further touted the successful development of Space Command’s new “campaign plan” for day-to-day operations, which he signed into action last week. Every Combatant Command has a campaign plan; this will be SPACECOM’s first.
“That’s our foundational plan if you will,” Raymond explained, “that drives our day-to-day activities across the command of SPACECOM.”
The campaign plan also includes a new mission statement for SPACECOM “placing greater emphasis on preparing for, defending against, and deterring threats,” according to a press release issued this evening. SPACECOM’s mission is:
“To conduct operations in, from, and through space to deter conflict, and if necessary, defeat aggression, deliver space combat power for the Joint/Combined force, and defend U.S. vital interests with allies and partners.”
Military space leaders across the Pentagon argue that a key driver for the creation of both Space Force and SPACECOM is the “escalating threat posed by adversaries who have transformed space from a benign environment to a competitive domain,” as the press statement reiterates.
(Of course, that statement that space until recently has been a benign environment, however, often is challenged by outside experts — who note that warnings about adversary threats by Air Force and DoD leaders date back to the dawn of the space age.) (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
19 May 20. Roccor Creates Helical L-Band Antenna for First-Ever Space Demonstration of Link 16 Networks. Roccor, a Colorado-based disruptive military and commercial hardware supplier in the rapidly growing small satellite market, has created a deployable L-band antenna that makes possible the reception and transmission of Link 16 signals via spacecraft.
The project is in partnership with Viasat, Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global communications company, and the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate, and is part of the world’s first-ever Link 16-capable Low Earth Orbit (LEO) spacecraft demonstration mission called XVI, which will launch later this year.
Roccor’s helical, two-meter-long deployable RF aperture, will be extended and supported on-orbit by Roccor’s slit-tube composite ROC™ boom, a product the company has successfully demonstrated in space on three other antenna systems for top-tier military customers.
“This will significantly broaden the Link 16 tactical communications network capabilities,” explained Bruce Davis, Roccor’s director of Space Antenna and Deorbit Products. “Viasat came to us with a hard problem and a tight timeframe. They needed robust broadband capabilities – ‘big ears’ – to enable communications across a range of frequencies and they wanted to demonstrate it on a small satellite platform that is easily scalable to constellation-class missions. Our solution extends the range of Link 16 networks, substantially enhancing situational awareness and mission capabilities for U.S. military personnel operating across the global battlespace.”
According to Davis, the widely proliferated Link 16 tactical communication network is the preferred choice of U.S. Department of Defense customers and a number of NATO allies for communication between ships, aircraft, maritime vessels, and troops operating at the tactical edge.
“The Link 16 antenna development program is a success story we share with our XVI mission customer Viasat and our technology development sponsor AFRL,” said Mark Lake, Roccor’s chief technology officer. “Roccor’s satellite antenna portfolio has grown from years of investment in simple, low-cost deployment mechanism technologies – like the ROC™ boom system used to deploy the Link 16 antenna – that are revolutionizing deployment systems for constellation missions. The upcoming XVI antenna deployment comes on the heels of decades of research and development and millions of dollars of investment into high-strain composite deployment systems starting in the early 2000s at AFRL and reduced to flight-certified products at Roccor over the past five years.”
According to Lake, Roccor won an additional $3m contract through Space and Missile Systems Center and AFRL space pitch day last fall to evolve the current Link 16 demonstration mission antenna into a production-ready design capable of serving the needs of upcoming constellation providers starting in 2021.
Late last year Ken Peterman, president, Government Systems, Viasat, said that “Roccor’s antenna will be vital to the success of the XVI program. This Link-16 capable Low Earth Orbit spacecraft will address the Department of Defense’s urgent need for a fast-to-market, cost-effective, space-based Link 16 solution that will help our forces maintain the technological edge needed across today’s battlespace.”
About Roccor: Roccor was founded in 2012 and is based in Longmont, Colorado. It is a fast-growing, vibrant, high technology supplier into the aerospace and terrestrial military markets. Roccor’s novel designs address cost and performance limitations to revolutionize spaceflight and military operations. The company has contracts with NASA, the U.S. military, and commercial space companies all around the world and already has several deployable systems on orbit as of late 2019 and with numerous additional systems delivered and planned for launch in 2020. Visit Roccor at www.roccor.com. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
19 May 20. Thales Alenia Space Wins 2 Contracts from ESA to Study Future Upgrades to Europe’s EGNOS Navigation System. The European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded two contracts to Thales Alenia Space, the joint company between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), concerning EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service). These contracts, fully financed under the European Commission H2020 programme concern study phases on the system evolution. They will call on Thales Alenia Space’s expertise as program prime contractor for over 25 years to study and develop upgrades for the EGNOS satellite navigation system.
The first contract concerns possible upgrades for EGNOS aeronautical services, designed to improve performances in order to increase landing safety under limited visibility conditions (from current CAT-I to CAT-II), over the current EGNOS footprint, focused on Europe.
The second contract will study changes required to extend its aeronautical services worldwide. Based on state-of-the-art technologies, this upgrade will call on the A-RAIM (Advanced Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring) concept and the global coverage of the Galileo satnav constellation. RAIM is an already deployed technology that assesses the integrity of signals in the receivers that are part of a global positioning system, mainly GPS.
Galileo will now be incorporated in the advanced version of this concept, A-RAIM, to provide enhanced horizontal guidance performance, not possible with RAIM using only GPS. The new concept would thus provide “safety of life” aeronautical services, including approaches with vertical guidance, thanks to inputs from GPS and Galileo via EGNOS.
“Today’s contracts are key for satellite navigation in Europe and bolster Thales Alenia Space’s European leadership in state of art satellite navigation systems, including Safety of Life services”, said Benoit Broudy, head of the Navigation business at Thales Alenia Space in France. He added: “Our successes on export markets, as in South Korea, validate our innovative approach that allows us to offer increasingly powerful and agile solutions to meet the evolving requirements of customers from around the world.” (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
19 May 20. Xilinx ‘Lifts Off’ with Launch of Industry’s First 20nm Space-Grade FPGA for Satellite and Space Applications. First to enable machine learning inference together with unlimited on-orbit reconfiguration for real time on-board-processing in space; delivers full radiation tolerance spanning all orbits.
Xilinx, Inc. (NASDAQ: XLNX), the leader in adaptive and intelligent computing, today announced the industry’s first 20-nanometer (nm) space-grade FPGA, delivering full radiation tolerance and ultra-high throughput and bandwidth performance for satellite and space applications. The new 20nm Radiation Tolerant (RT) Kintex® UltraScale™ XQRKU060 FPGA provides true unlimited on-orbit reconfiguration, over a 10x increase in digital signal processing (DSP) performance – ideal for payload applications – and full radiation tolerance across all orbits.
The XQRKU060 also brings high performance machine learning (ML) to space for the first time. A diverse portfolio of ML development tools supporting industry standard frameworks, including TensorFlow and PyTorch, enable neural network inference acceleration for real-time on-board processing in space with a complete “process and analyze” solution. The XQRKU060’s dense, power-efficient compute with scalable precision and large on-chip memory, provides 5.7 tera operations per second (TOPs) of peak INT8 performance optimized for deep learning, a nearly 25X increase compared to the prior generation.
Building on Xilinx’s space heritage and highly successful 65nm space-grade devices, the launch of the first 20nm part for space applications advances the space industry by three process node generations. It delivers a significant reduction in size, weight and power, and is engineered with robust radiation tolerant features. The XQRKU060 provides customers with a space-resilient device equipped to handle both short and long duration missions in harsh space environments.
“With our extensive history in developing leading-edge, radiation tolerant technology and deploying this in reliable space-grade solutions, Xilinx continues its lead with the launch of the world’s most advanced process node for space,” said Minal Sawant, space systems architect, Aerospace and Defense Vertical Marketing, at Xilinx. “The 20nm RT Kintex UltraScale FPGA is breaking industry standards and setting a new benchmark for meeting the high compute requirements of high bandwidth payloads, space exploration and research missions.”
The XQRKU060 is the industry’s only true unlimited on-orbit reconfigurable solution. The on-orbit reconfiguration capabilities, together with real-time on-board processing and ML acceleration, allows satellites to update in real-time, deliver video-on-demand, and perform compute “on-the-fly” to process complex algorithms. The ML capabilities are suitable to a variety of problems spanning scientific analysis, object detection, and image classification – such as cloud detection – enabling improved processing efficiency and reduced decision latency both in space and on the ground. As protocols and applications progressively change, the adaptive compute architecture of the XQRKU060 allows unlimited on-orbit reconfiguration to enable customers to perform last-minute product updates prior to launch, as well as after it has been deployed in orbit.
Performance and Resiliency for Space
The XQRKU060 offers rich DSP capabilities optimized for dense power-efficient compute. It is equipped with 2,760 UltraScale DSP slices and provides up to 1.6 TeraMACs of signal processing compute, more than a 10X increase compared to the prior generation, as well as dramatic efficiency gains for floating point computations. The increased compute capability in space is paired with massive I/O bandwidth from 32 high-speed transceivers (SerDes) that can run up to 12.5Gbps to deliver 400Gbps aggregate bandwidth.
“SEAKR® Engineering, Inc. has collaborated with Xilinx for 15 years to consistently achieve challenging mission objectives for advanced space communications applications,” said Paul Rutt, CTO at SEAKR. “We have baselined Xilinx’s 20nm Kintex UltraScale FPGAs with 12.5 Gbps SerDes links enabling high-throughput, flexible and reconfigurable modulation, demodulation, channelization and routing capability in our newest advanced RF Reconfigurable processor, Wolverine. The Processor leverages the 10x increase in DSP compute capability for direct RF Sampling compared to prior generation systems.”
The XQRKU060 also features robust 40x40mm ceramic packaging capable of withstanding vibrations and handling during launch as well as radiation effects in harsh orbit environments. The architecture features an innovative design for single event effects (SEE) mitigation thereby meeting the industry requirements for all orbits, including low earth orbit (LEO), medium earth orbit (MEO), geosynchronous orbit (GEO), and deep space missions.
The XQRKU060 brings a new, simplified development environment with the Xilinx® Vivado® Design Suite. The redesigned routing architecture provides extensive routing capacity to resolve common industry bottleneck challenges. Programming with the Vivado Design Suite helps to eliminate routing congestion, allowing more than 90 percent of the device to be used without any performance degradation. With Vivado, system designers and radiation teams can maximize productivity and reduce development time, helping to enable aggressive launch schedules.
Additionally, the Vitis™ unified software platform provides support for embedded software development on the Triple Modular Redundant (TMR)-capable MicroBlaze™ soft processor. Future extensions will add support for Vitis™ AI, the Xilinx unified software platform for AI inference on Xilinx devices and production cards.
A robust partner ecosystem of compatible solutions for the XQRKU060 are available today. Ecosystem partner solutions offer an array of assets for customers to accelerate their space-application designs, ranging from prototyping boards, space-qualified power, memory and configuration solutions, and single event upsets (SEU) mitigation tools and IP.
Flight units of the 20nm RT Kintex UltraScale space-grade XQRKU060-1CNA1509 FPGA will be available in Xilinx Class B and Class Y test flows per the MIL-PRF-38535, beginning in September of this year. Mechanical samples and prototype units are available now. Customers can start prototyping with the KCU105 Evaluation Kit or the Kintex UltraScale Space Development Kit. To learn more visit: www.xilinx.com/products/silicon-devices/fpga/rt-kintex-ultrascale.html.(Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
19 May 20. Northrop receives $2.4bn contract for two missile defense satellites. The U.S. Space Force has awarded Northrop Grumman a $2.375bn contract for two Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared satellites that will help provide ballistic missile warning for the military.
Next Gen OPIR is to replace the Space-Based Infrared System, a crucial part of the nation’s missile defense architecture. Utilizing infrared sensors, the satellites will be able to detect and track ballistic missile threats while being more survivable than the legacy system.
The Space and Missile Systems Center plans to have five satellites in the constellation: three geosynchronous satellites built by Lockheed Martin, and two polar satellites being built by Northrop Grumman.
Northrop Grumman was initially awarded a $47m contract for system and payload requirements analysis and risk reduction for the two polar vehicles in June 2018.
The $2.4bn contract modification issued May 18 provides for Phase One design and development, the procurement of critical flight hardware, and risk-reduction efforts leading to critical design review. At this time, $70.5m is being released. Work is expected to be completed by December 2025.
Meanwhile, Lockheed is developing the three geosynchronous Next Gen OPIR space vehicles. That company was awarded $2.9bn in August 2018 to begin work on the satellites, leading to critical design review. In October 2019, the Space and Missile Systems Center announced the system had passed preliminary design review.
The Air Force has accelerated the timeline for Next Gen OPIR to get the first satellite delivered in 2025. That’s required more money up front than initially expected, which was provided through a series of reprogramming requests in 2019. That became a source of tension between competing versions of the annual defense budgets in the House and Senate last year, but SMC credited that reprogramming with keeping Next Gen OPIR on track. (Source: Defense News)
19 May 20. New military weather satellite passes key milestones. A satellite designed to rapidly provide space-based environmental monitoring for the war fighter has achieved two major milestones, passing a critical design review and receiving Milestone B certification, the U.S. Space Force announced May 19.
The next-generation Weather System Follow-on—Microwave (WSF-M) program will provide essential weather data to the U.S. military and its allies. The system will use passive microwave sensors to measure ocean surface wind speed and direction, ice thickness, snow depth, and soil moisture. It will also provide space weather data, taking readings on the energetic-charged particles around the spacecraft.
Ball Aerospace is the prime contractor for WSF-M, having been awarded about $349.6m to design and build the first space vehicle.
WSF-M passed its critical design review in April, clearing the way for fabrication, demonstration and testing. On May 15, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Will Roper granted WSF-M Milestone B certification and program approval, formally baselining the program’s execution requirements, including cost and schedule caps.
SMC noted that both milestones were reached while taking steps to mitigate the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19. During critical design review, physical distancing guidelines were followed by using voice conferences, online meetings and secure data exchange tools to remove the need for in-person interactions.
“I am fortunate to have a dedicated team committed to providing capability on time, no matter what the obstacle,” Lt. Col. Wilfredo Ruiz, WSF-M program manager, said in a statement. (Source: Defense News)
20 May 20. New report reveals the future has never been brighter for Australia’s space industry. Every business will be a space business in 2030, with massive implications for Australia’s growing$5bn space sector, according to KPMG Australia’s new report 30 Voices on 2030 – The future of space.
With the world at a “pivotal point for space”, the global space industry is expected to be worth US$600bn by 2030, and Australia’s 14,000 strong space workforce has been growing at 10.9 per cent annually over the past five years.
The report contains interviews with 30 industry leaders about the changes and opportunities presented by space.
Experts who contributed to the report include Dr Megan Clark, head of the Australian Space Agency; James Morhard, the deputy administrator of NASA; Dr Jan Wörner, the director general of the European Space Agency.
They are joined by space industry executives and entrepreneurs, and specialists in areas as diverse as space medicine and space agriculture.
By 2030, the report predicts, manufacturing in space will be real and viable and there will be assets such as mines operated remotely on the moon.
Rather than space programs being purely government-led, there will be more and more partnerships between the public and private sectors, with government as a customer of civil space business.
Mike Kalms, partner in charge, space and defence industry, KPMG Australia, explained, “Today’s ‘small space start-ups’ will be the sector leaders in 2030.
“Already many multi-national businesses are investing in the space sector and understanding how it can add value to their business on Earth. By 2030 we expect many businesses across all industries to have dedicated space teams and resources. The majority of space companies will be valued in the billions of dollars and operate across multiple countries. Global levels of co-operation will help enhance economic and political ties between nation states.”
While people won’t be living on the moon quite like the Jetsons, with space travel remaining costly, there will be an increased human presence in space.
This will enable more research, such as medical research in zero gravity. The report also predicts that the human genome may be altered to further support humanity’s sustained exploration of space.
At the same time, there will be challenges in terms of sustainability: a moratorium on space debris and a recognition of the importance of the ecology of space for future generations.
A central international governing body will also need to be established to manage space data, which will increase in volume and value.
Kalms added, “Businesses are already putting sustainability at the forefront of what they do on Earth. We anticipate the same will be applied to space activities in the years ahead. Debris in space has long been an area of concern, which will only escalate. We will need international agreements, and ways to recover and recycle decommissioned satellites. Legislation and treaties will need to evolve as space becomes its own legal jurisdiction.”
Much of the data collected will be analysed by leading-edge analytics in-orbit to reduce the volume of data that needs to be transmitted to Earth and stored.
AI will also be used in deep space missions to overcome communications delays due to distance and help pre-empt and correct problems. (Source: Space Connect)
19 May 20. Kleos Space (US) awarded contract on Micro-Satellite Military Utility Project.
- Contract awarded by Utah State University Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) under multi-national Government initiative in collaboration with US Air Force Research Laboratory
o Including Departments / Ministries of Defense of United Kingdom, Germany, Norway & Netherlands.
Kleos Space (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1), a space-powered RF reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company, has been awarded a contract to prepare Kleos data to be accessed by the Micro-Satellite Military Utility (MSMU Project) Project Arrangement (PA) which is an agreement under the Responsive Space Capabilities Memorandum of Understanding involving the Departments and Ministries of Defense of Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, United Kingdom and United States.
The program is coordinated by the Utah State University Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) in collaboration with the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).
Andy Bowyer CEO commented “This opportunity delivered by the team; Peter Round and Karyn Hayes-Ryan is a great achievement and validation for the Company.
We are seeing increasing demand for our global geolocation intelligence data, which will enhance the ISR capabilities of governments and commercial entities. We are proud to be supporting the SDL & AFRL team on this exceptional program.”
Karyn Hayes-Ryan, Director commented “Our satellites and our data will enhance defense capabilities when fused with other data sets in the Government environment, as well as providing timely monitoring of illegal fishing, oil embargoes and other illicit action that both damages our environment and hurts our economies.”
The MSMU Project aims to develop a blueprint for a Multinational Heterogeneous Space Enterprise (ISR Enterprise), to provide military users with reliable access to a broad spectrum of information in an opportunistic environment.
The MSMU Project is building the architecture and infrastructure to enable machine intelligence, including automation, human-machine teaming, and ultimately, artificial intelligence; these initiatives will define how the ISR Enterprise executes operations.
Kleos’ Scouting Mission satellites that are in Chennai, India awaiting launch on Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) PSLV C49, will detect and geolocate maritime radio frequency transmissions to provide global activity-based intelligence, enhancing the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities of governments and commercial entities when Automatic Identification System (AIS) is defeated, imagery unclear or targets out of patrol range. Kleos’ satellites will be in a 37-degree inclination orbit, covering crucial shipping regions for defense and security customers including the Strait of Hormuz, South China Sea, Australian coast, Southern US coast as well as the East and West African coast.
About Kleos Space S.A.
Kleos Space is a space enabled, activity-based intelligence, data as a service company based in Luxembourg, US, UK and Australia. Kleos Space aims to guard borders, protect assets and save lives by delivering global activity-based intelligence and geolocation as a service. The first Kleos Space satellite system, known as Kleos Scouting Mission (KSM), will deliver commercially available data and perform as a technology demonstration. KSM will be the keystone for a later global high capacity constellation. The Scouting Mission will deliver targeted daily services with the full constellation delivering near-real time global observation – www.kleos.space.
About Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL)
SDL has been solving the technical challenges faced by the military, science community, and industry for six decades and supports NASA’s vision to reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind. As one of 14 University Affiliated Research Centers, SDL serves as a subject matter expert in its core research areas to the US Government, ensuring that essential engineering and technology capabilities are maintained. SDL is a research laboratory headquartered in North Logan, UT, and has offices in Albuquerque, NM; Bedford, MA; Dayton, OH; Huntsville, AL; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Stafford, VA; and Washington, DC. For more information, visit www.sdl.usu.edu
18 May 20. Isotropic Highlights Satellite’s Key Role as it Prepares for the 5G Future. Isotropic, the trusted provider of global Internet services offering unrivaled certainty, has launched a whitepaper that details the integral role that satellite has to play in the ‘Network of Networks’. The team has been heavily involved in the validation of new satellite-based applications for 5G and various demonstrations that prove seamless end-to-end satellite and 5G terrestrial services.
“There’s no doubt that satellite is going to be integral to the delivery of 5G networks, but it’s just one part, one technology because other access technologies will be critical as well,” says Hank Zbierski, Chief Catalyst, Isotropic. “Wired, wireless, terrestrial and satellite will work in harmony to meet demand wherever it is with the most relevant technology playing its part in any given situation. We must ensure that satellite blends perfectly with other technologies so that we can create a symphony in space.”
Due to satellite’s unique ability to reach anywhere, it is going to be very important in terms of extending the reach of 5G networks, but it will also play a critical role in enabling network operators to benefit from bandwidth savings, performance, redundancy and QoS especially as demand for mobile bandwidth will see exponential growth as 5G expectations are placed on networks.
Operators will face a number of challenges as 5G becomes reality. They will require cost-effective solutions that enable a frictionless user experience. They will need to meet an insatiable appetite for bandwidth and speed as a result of consumer demand for greater connectivity.
Isotropic’s Datadragon™ has been developed to enable operators to take total control of their network through an intuitive bandwidth management platform that enables users to see, shape and distribute available bandwidth in real time. Datadragon offers application-level transparency, so that users can fine-tune how bandwidth is allocated across single, multi-use or hybrid networks.
“The Datadragon platform will be an invaluable tool for our clients as they navigate the new world of 5G,” continues Zbierski. “With Datadragon, we are giving never-before-seen insights into clients’ networks and the ability to optimize and prioritize bandwidth allocation according to their end users’ needs.”
To discover more about Isotropic’s road to 5G, download the whitepaper here and find more information on the unrivalled certainty delivered by the team at: www.isotropic.network/
About Isotropic Networks
Isotropic Networks, Inc. (Isotropic) is a global provider of satellite Internet services and network management solutions. With the best uptime in the satellite industry, we deliver unrivaled certainty for leaders in high-risk, high-pressure industries including Oil and Gas, Maritime, and Enterprise Solutions.
Isotropic is built on high standards for troubleshooting and solving technically complex problems with the latest technologies. Our team of highly-trained hardware and software engineers delivers personalized services and solutions that support our clients when and where they need it most—now and into the future.
Isotropic is connecting the planet and continually raising the bar for what satellite connectivity can be. www.isotropic.network (Source: PR Newswire)
18 May 20. New UK-based space team launches to boost sector and economy. Serco, Inmarsat, CGI UK and Lockheed Martin UK form ‘Athena’ to develop additional UK space capabilities, win new business and boost the British economy. Four UK-based companies announce today that they will team up to combine their complementary skills and expertise to enhance further the country’s space industry capabilities to deliver prosperity and security.
Athena is the UK’s new national team in space, formed by Serco, Inmarsat, CGI UK and Lockheed Martin UK. The four companies are world leaders in providing technology and services across defence, space, communications and information technology to governments, businesses and other organisations.
Athena has been formed to seize development opportunities that new space technologies will offer, driving economic growth for the UK and diversification across the British space sector as Athena succeeds. The combined capabilities and technologies available to Athena will enhance further the country’s ability to deliver the UK’s ‘Prosperity and Security in Space’ strategy, which aims to increase the value of space to wider industrial activities to £500bn, generate an extra £5bn in UK exports and attract £3bn of additional inward investment.
Kevin Craven Serco Chief Executive, UK & Europe, said: “I am delighted to introduce Athena as an exciting new team that will deliver enhanced space-based technologies and services from the UK. Athena will boost British capabilities, as well as the economy, via growth in this fast-moving, developing sector. The launch of Athena also ensures diversity and choice in the UK space sector for future sustainable development.”
Athena will work on a number of opportunities that leverage space-based technologies, their ground-based systems and end-to-end services as they arise, both in the UK and internationally in the export market.
The UK has significant potential for strong growth in the space sector, as it develops in importance worldwide to facilitate new technologies such as driverless transport, enhanced navigation, secure communications for defence and for industry via the Internet of Things (IoT) and, more broadly, as part of 5G and other hybrid networks.
While continuing to operate as separate companies, Athena will see Serco, Inmarsat, CGI UK and Lockheed Martin UK – already major employers in the UK – develop shared capabilities to meet future demand for space-enabled solutions for business and government customers. This will also aim to boost the UK economy, in partnership with the UK Government’s growing focus on the space sector and its priorities around ‘levelling up’ economic benefits across the country. Unleashing untapped potential in the UK space sector through future export business will deliver further growth and job creation at the four companies’ sites across the country as well as enhanced skills in the UK workforce.
18 May 20. NRL conducts first test of solar power satellite hardware in orbit. U.S. Naval Research Laboratory engineers launched PRAM, the Photovoltaic Radio-frequency Antenna Module, aboard an Air Force X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle on May 17 as part of a comprehensive investigation into prospective terrestrial use of solar energy captured in space.
“To our knowledge, this experiment is the first test in orbit of hardware designed specifically for solar power satellites, which could play a revolutionary role in our energy future,” said Paul Jaffe, PRAM principal investigator.
The 12-inch square tile module will test the ability to harvest power from its solar panel and transform the energy to a radio frequency microwave.
“PRAM converts sunlight for microwave power transmission. We could’ve also converted for optical power transmission,” said Chris Depuma, PRAM program manager. “Converting to optical might make more sense for lunar applications because there’s no atmosphere on the Moon. The disadvantage of optical is you could lose a lot of energy through clouds and atmosphere. ”
The use of solar energy to operate satellites began at the start of the space age with another NRL spacecraft: Vanguard I, the first satellite to have solar cells. This current experiment focuses on the energy conversion process and resulting thermal performance. The hardware will provide researchers with temperature data, along with PRAM’s efficiency in energy production. This information will drive the design of future space solar prototypes.
Depending on the results, the team aims ultimately to build a fully-functional system on a dedicated spacecraft to test the transmission of energy back to Earth. The development of a space solar capability could potentially help provide energy to remote installations like forward operating bases and disaster response areas.
This flight experiment enables researchers to test the hardware in actual space conditions. Incoming sunlight travels through the Earth’s atmosphere, both filtering the spectrum and reducing its brightness. A space solar system traveling above the atmosphere would catch more energy from each of the sunlight’s color bands.
“There’s more blue in the spectrum in space, allowing you to add another layer to solar cells to take advantage of that,” Jaffe said. “This is one reason why the power per unit area of a solar panel in space is greater than on the ground.”
The National Security Space Office recommended in a 2007 feasibility study to investigate solar power satellite technology. NRL’s expertise with solar-powered satellites since the late 1950s and long history as a pioneer in space, including in the development of GPS, led researchers to further explore this emergent field.
Contributing and supporting partners for this effort included the Operational Energy Capability Improvement Fund in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, the Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, the Department of Defense Space Test Program, Boeing, TSC Praxis Operations, Gulfview Research, Odin Engineering, and SpaceQuest.
About the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
NRL is a scientific and engineering command dedicated to research that drives innovative advances for the Navy and Marine Corps from the seafloor to space and in the information domain. NRL headquarters is located in Washington, D.C., with major field sites in Stennis Space Center, Mississippi, Key West, Florida, and Monterey, California, and employs approximately 2,500 civilian scientists, engineers and support personnel. (Source: PR Newswire)
18 May 20. Japan launches new unit to boost defense in space. Japan launched its new space defense unit Monday to monitor and counter threats to the country’s satellites. The Space Operations Squadron, part of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, starts with 20 members and is expected to grow to about 100 members once the unit is fully operational in 2023.
The role of the unit is mainly to monitor and protect Japanese satellites from enemy attacks or space debris. It will also conduct satellite-based navigation and communications for other troops in the field.
The launch of the new unit comes amid growing Japanese concern that China and Russia are seeking ways to interfere, disable or destroy satellites.
The unit will cooperate with U.S. Space Command that President Donald Trump established last year, as well as Japan’s space exploration agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Defense Minister Taro Kono said.
“It is important that we gain superiority in the space domain as well,” Kono said Monday at a launch ceremony. “We must adapt to the new security environment as soon as possible.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pushed for Japan’s Self-Defense Force to expand its international role and capability by bolstering cooperation and weapons compatibility with the U.S., as it increasingly works alongside American troops and as it grows concerned about the increasing capabilities of China and North Korea. (Source: Defense News)
18 May 20. Private Division and European Space Agency Partner for New Kerbal Space Program Update. Free Shared Horizons update* launching July 1, 2020 to feature iconic missions, additional spacecraft, and more.
Private Division and Squad today announced a partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) to launch a new Kerbal Space Program update, entitled Shared Horizons, which is planned to launch on PC on July 1, 2020. The update will also be available later this year on consoles. Shared Horizons celebrates ESA’s outstanding contribution to space exploration, and will be a free update* for all players of the critically acclaimed physics-based space simulation game.
Shared Horizons will also add two cornerstone missions led by Europe’s chief space organization, the landmark rocket Ariane 5, an ESA-themed space suit for Kerbals, new parts, and science experiments for players to conduct. The first new mission, BepiColombo, will recreate the ESA’s ongoing joined mission between the ESA and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to Mercury. Players will attempt to reach orbit and land on Moho, the equivalent of Mercury in the Kerbal universe, while performing various scientific tasks from the actual ESA mission. Rosetta, the second new mission, will pay tribute to the successful landing on a Jupiter-family comet, an event that enabled the gathering of important data on the comet’s environment. Based upon historic ESA missions, the challenges provide an opportunity for players to experience these thrilling space discovery moments in Kerbal Space Program.
“We are excited to partner with the ESA to bring their actual missions and spacecraft to Kerbal Space Program for the first time,” said Michael Cook, Executive Producer at Private Division. “It is an honor to work hand-in-hand with such a world-class space organization, and we cannot wait for fans to experience these monumental missions with the Shared Horizons update.”
“Here at the European Space Agency, many of our engineers and scientists are very familiar with KSP,” said Günther Hasinger, Director of Science at ESA. “Both Rosetta and BepiColombo are highly complex missions that have specific challenges; however, each prove to be very rewarding for ESA and the global scientific community. Because of this, I am very happy that these ground-breaking science missions can be experienced on Kerbin as well as on Earth.”
The Kerbal Space Program: Shared Horizons update will be available for PC on July 1, 2020, with console releases planned for later this year. Kerbal Space Program is rated E for Everyone by the ESRB. For more information on Kerbal Space Program, subscribe on YouTube, follow us on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook, and visit www.KerbalSpaceProgram.com.
Private Division is a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO).
* Free Shared Horizons update requires the Kerbal Space Program base game. Visit kerbalspaceprogram.com for the latest details.
About Kerbal Space Program
In Kerbal Space Program, you take charge of the space program for the alien race known as the Kerbals. You have access to an array of parts to assemble a fully functional spacecraft that flies (or doesn’t) based on realistic aerodynamic and orbital physics. Launch your Kerbal crew into orbit and beyond (while keeping them alive) to explore moons and planets in the Kerbol solar system, constructing bases and space stations to expand the reach of your expedition.
Kerbal Space Program features three gameplay modes. In Science Mode, perform space experiments to unlock new technology and advance the knowledge of Kerbalkind. In Career Mode, also oversee every aspect of the space program, including construction, strategy, funding, upgrades, and more. In Sandbox, build any spacecraft you can think of, with all parts and technology in the game.
About Kerbal Space Program Franchise
The original Kerbal Space Program, created and with on-going development by Squad, released on PC in April 2015* and has sold more than 3.5 million units worldwide. The title has been widely popular with the media and consumers alike, earning a Metacritic rating of 88** and a Steam user score of 93%***. Kerbal Space Program 2 is the sequel to the original game and the second in the series for the franchise. It is being developed by Private Division.
*Game became available through Steam Early Access in March 2013, and launched in April 2015.
**Metacritic score for PC as of May 13, 2020.
***Steam user score as of May 13, 2020
Based in Mexico City, Squad are the developers of the critically acclaimed space simulation game, Kerbal Space Program. Comprised of an international team of talented, passionate and ambitious individuals that love video games, space, and science, they have reinvented themselves into full-time video game development.
About the European Space Agency
The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space. ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Slovenia is an Associate Member. ESA has established formal cooperation with seven Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement. By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes as well as with Eumetsat for the development of meteorological missions. ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities. Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space. ESA also has a strong applications programme developing services in Earth observation, navigation and telecommunications. Learn more about ESA at www.esa.int.
About Private Division
Private Division is a developer-focused publisher that empowers independent studios to develop the games that they are passionate about creating, while providing the support that they need to make their titles critically and commercially successful on a global scale. The Label publishes the Kerbal Space Program franchise, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey from Panache Digital Games, The Outer Worlds from Obsidian Entertainment, and Disintegration from V1 Interactive, with future unannounced projects in development. Private Division is headquartered in New York City with offices in Seattle, Las Vegas, and Munich. For more information, please visit www.privatedivision.com.
About Take-Two Interactive Software
Headquartered in New York City, Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. is a leading developer, publisher and marketer of interactive entertainment for consumers around the globe. We develop and publish products through our labels Rockstar Games, 2K, and Private Division, as well as Social Point, a leading developer of mobile games. Our products are designed for console systems and personal computers, including smartphones and tablets, and are delivered through physical retail, digital download, online platforms and cloud streaming services. The Company’s common stock is publicly traded on NASDAQ under the symbol TTWO. For more corporate and product information please visit our website at http://www.take2games.com.
All trademarks and copyrights contained herein are the property of their respective holders. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
19 May 20. CSIRO ready, willing and able to kick start antenna upgrades for future space travel. The joint-CSIRO, NASA JPL team at the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) are preparing for a major upgrade of the 70-metre antenna Deep Space Station 43 (DSS43), which has been a critical part of NASA’s global deep space network.
For nearly five decades, DSS43 has been a vital part of NASA’s global Deep Space Network. It provides two-way radio contact with dozens of robotic spacecraft exploring the solar system and beyond.
It is the largest steerable parabolic dish in the southern hemisphere. After all this time, some of the systems on the big dish are showing signs of age.
To prepare the dish for decades to come, DSS43 is going offline for 10 months while a team of nearly 200 engineers and technicians, including local and overseas contractors, give it a top-to-bottom, inside-and-out spruce up.
Managing the project is Nigel Chauncy, radio systems technician at CDSCC. In his 22 years at the complex, Chauncy has worked on many projects, but this is the largest he has ever undertaken.
“We’ll be installing two new high-powered transmitters on ‘43’, as well as upgrades to its entire electrical cabling, power supply, cooling systems. Plus a whole lot more,” Chauncy explained.
“A major milestone is the replacement of one of the huge central feed cones. The logistics of bringing in a 450-tonne crane to lift the two-storey-high cone and raising it over 70 metres to delicately position it inside the dish is a challenge I’ve been looking forward to.”
Rhiannon Sutherland is overseeing personnel and site safety. A Ngunnawal woman who’s worked in the civil construction world, Sutherland is enjoying the challenges her new role at CDSCC presents.
“The hardest thing is we’re not only working to meet Australian legislative requirements but also American and Commonwealth guidelines. We’ve got to put all three together to make sure they all comply and are to an Australian standard,” Sutherland said.
“There is going to be multiple high-risk jobs undertaken throughout this project. My guiding principle is to ensure that at the end of the day, everyone gets to go home to their families.”
The tracking station team has the talents and skills to return DSS43 to service by January 2021. This is in time for several new robotic missions arriving at Mars.
DSS43’s improved capabilities will ensure these missions are supported. It will also enable NASA’s plans to return humans to the moon in the mid-2020s and future human missions to Mars. (Source: Space Connect)
17 May 20. United Launch Alliance Successfully Launches the Sixth Orbital Test Vehicle for the U.S. Space Force. Mission dedicated to front-line responders and those affected by COVID-19. United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 501 rocket carrying the USSF-7 mission for the U.S. Space Force lifted off on May 17, 9:14 a.m. EDT, from Space Launch Complex-41. This marks the 84th successful launch of an Atlas V rocket, 139th launch for ULA, the second launch for the U.S. Space Force and the sixth flight of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-6).
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 501 rocket carrying the USSF-7 mission for the U.S. Space Force lifted off on May 17, 9:14 a.m. EDT, from Space Launch Complex-41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Photo courtesy of United Launch Alliance.
“The success of this mission resulted from collaboration with our customer while working through challenging, and ever changing, health and safety conditions,” said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs. “We were honored to partner with the U.S. Space Force to dedicate this mission to first responders, front-line workers, and those affected by COVID-19. It is truly a unique time in our history and I want to thank the entire team for their continued dedication and focus on mission success.”
Along with OTV-6, this mission deployed FalconSat-8, a small satellite developed by the U.S. Air Force Academy and sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to conduct experiments on orbit. The mission also carried two NASA experiments, including a material sample plate to determine the results of radiation and other space effects on various materials, and an experiment which will assess space effects on seeds used to grow food. Another experiment sponsored by the Naval Research Laboratory will examine the ability to transform solar power into radio frequency microwave energy which could be transmitted to the ground.
This mission launched aboard an Atlas V 501 configuration rocket that included a 5-meter-diameter payload fairing. The Atlas booster was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine, and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine.
ULA’s next launch is NASA’s Mars 2020 mission carrying the Perseverance rover on an Atlas V rocket. The launch is scheduled for July 17 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
To date ULA has a track record of 100% mission success with 139 successful launches. (Source: PR Newswire)
17 May 20. Boeing-built X-37B Launches in Second Mission for U.S. Space Force. Record-setting autonomous spaceplane begins sixth mission.
The Boeing [NYSE: BA]-built X-37B autonomous spaceplane today launched on top of a uniquely configured United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
Boeing is the prime contractor for the X-37B spaceplane and facilitates the integration of all experiments into the vehicle ensuring they receive the correct power, thermal and data services required. Boeing also works to identify future reusable platform experiment opportunities on each mission.
The X-37B’s sixth mission is the first to use a service module with additional payload capability to support a variety of experiments for multiple government partners. The mission will deploy FalconSAT-8, a small satellite developed by the U.S. Air Force Academy and sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory, to conduct experiments on orbit. Further, two NASA experiments will study the impact of radiation and other space effects on certain materials and seeds used to grow food. Another experiment by the Naval Research Laboratory will transform solar power into radio frequency microwave energy which could then be transmitted to the ground. In addition, the mission will test reusable space vehicle technologies.
The X-37B first launched in April 2010. Originally designed for missions of 270 days duration, the X-37B has set endurance records during each of its five previous flights. Most recently, X-37B spent 780 days on orbit before returning to Earth in October 2019.
“The X-37B has shifted the paradigm and redefined efficiency in space development, said Jim Chilton, Boeing Space and Launch senior vice president. “The rapid technology advancements enabled by the program will benefit the entire space community and influence the next generation of spacecraft design.”
The X-37B program is a partnership between the Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office and the United States Space Force. Boeing program management, engineering, test and mission support functions for the Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) program are conducted at Boeing sites in Southern California and Florida.
15 May 20. These eight satellites will track hypersonic weapons. The Space Development Agency wants to put an initial batch of satellites capable of tracking hypersonic weapons on orbit in fiscal 2022, according to a draft request for proposals the agency released May 11.
The draft comes as SDA prepares to launch its first tranche of about 20 satellites in FY22, the first step toward its goal of hundreds of interconnected satellites operating in low Earth orbit. The agency is taking a spiral development approach, launching additional satellites with increasingly advanced capabilities in two-year tranches.
The second tranche, to be launched in FY24, will place 150 satellites on orbit.
According to the draft RFP, the agency wants a contractor to design and build eight Wide Field of View, or WFoV, satellites with infrared sensors capable of demonstrating an initial hypersonic weapon-tracking capability.
The eight satellites will also be able to plug into SDA’s transport layer satellites, which will establish a space-based mesh network with optical intersatellite cross links. That will allow data collected by the WFoV sensors to flow from satellite to satellite until it is disseminated over tactical data links to the appropriate system.
The agency released an RFP on May 1 for the first 10 satellites that will make up the transport layer. Those satellites are also set to launch in FY22.
In addition, SDA wants to launch Medium Field of View satellites in mid-FY23 focused on technologies needed for additional performance.
Here are the performance goals laid out for the eight WFoV satellites in the draft RFP:
- Develop and deliver space vehicles integrated with infrared sensors that have sufficient sensitivity and processing to detect hypersonic vehicles from low Earth orbit.
- Characterize performance of satellite-to-satellite and satellite-to-ground communication paths.
- Integrate with a proliferated transport layer to directly provide tracking information over tactical data links.
- Demonstrate interoperability between satellites provided by different vendors.
- Assess how on-board processing, communications infrastructure and advanced algorithms can enable more efficient use of communications bandwidth.
- Develop a concept of operations for a global tracking capability.
- Verify functional and performance requirements to inform future trade studies on communications; space and ground processing; and the numbers, types and capabilities of space-based sensors needed for a full global capability.
Responses to the draft are due May 29.
The release comes shortly after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced it plans to launch its first Blackjack satellite into orbit later this year, with more to follow in 2021. With Project Blackjack, DARPA seeks to demonstrate the value of low-Earth orbit satellites for the Defense Department. The small satellites will carry advanced technologies that will demonstrate space-based mesh networks and constellation autonomy. SDA leadership previously said the agency will build off the lessons learned from Blackjack. (Source: Defense News)
15 May 20. Space Force Flag Unveiled at White House. Defense leaders presented the flag of the Space Force to President Donald J. Trump today in the Oval Office. The flag of the newly created armed service will hang alongside those of the other military services at the White House.
“I just want to congratulate everybody and thank everybody,” the president said. “Space is going to be … the future, both in terms of defense and offense in so many other things.”
Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper called the presentation of the flag historic. “The United States has been a spacefaring nation for decades,” he said during the short ceremony.
The creation of the Space Force was necessary because adversaries have “weaponized” space, he said. Space is a warfighting domain. “The United States is now doing what it needs to do to protect our assets in space and ensure that space remains the heavens by which we not only protect America, but we sustain our economy, we sustain our commercial capabilities, we sustain Americans’ way of life,” Esper said.
Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called space critical to the United States. “If we are going to sustain our way of life, and we’re going to defend our nation, then we’re going to have to defend ourselves in space,” Milley said.
Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, commander of the U.S. Space Command and the nation’s first chief of space operations, thanked the president for his support of the 16,000 space professionals assigned to the Space Force. Those men and women come to work every day focusing on providing space capabilities for our nation for joint coalition forces and for the world, Raymond said. “We’re proud of this flag. We’re proud to have an opportunity to present it to you here for display in the White House,” he said.
Air Force Secretary Barbara M. Barrett stressed the integral role space plays in everyday American life. “Most … Americans, before their first cup of coffee in the morning, have used space, but very few people realize how important space is to everything that we do,” she said.
But the domain is vulnerable, and space-based equipment needs to be defended and toughened. “You’ve recognized that and built a force that will help to protect our assets in space, and deter aggressive action in space, and if deterrence doesn’t work, to be able to defend our assets in space and those of our allies,” she told Trump.
“The U.S. Space Force is proud to present the official flag to the President of the United States, to our space professionals across the globe, and to the American public, thus establishing another piece of our culture,” said Lynn Kirby, the Space Force spokesperson.
The official flag of the Space Force is derived from key and central elements of the seal of the United States Space Force, she said. (Source: US DoD)
13 May 20. SpaceX Could Fill the U.S. Military’s Arctic Communications Gap by the End of This Year. The U.S. Defense Department relies on a mixture of military and commercial satellites to connect its war fighters all over the world. And while users can complain that terminals are too bulky or that they should have the roaming capability exhibited in commercial cellphone technology, the system largely works.
But that’s not the case in the Arctic.
“Very simple things become hard when you’re in the Arctic, not the least of which is communication. When you are above about 65 degrees north, satellite communication starts to diminish, and above about 70 degrees north it becomes extremely limited except for some of our more exquisite capability — submarines, for example,” said U.S. Northern Command spokesman Maj. Mark Lazane.
The U.S. Space Force’s primary communications satellite system, Wideband Global SATCOM, is designed to provide connectivity between 70 degrees north and 65 degrees south — basically to the edge of the polar region.
The Space Force also operates two Enhanced Polar System satellites — the Arctic complement to the Advanced Extremely High Frequency constellation. EPS satellites provide highly secure, anti-jamming signals, and like its counterpart, EPS is built for high-priority military communications, like that used with submarines.
And while elsewhere in the world the military supplements its purpose-built systems with commercial communications satellites, that option is limited in the Arctic. After all, commercial satellites providing coverage of other areas aren’t solely serving the military, and the services rely on commercial consumers to offset the costs of designing, building, launching and maintaining a satellite. But there’s far less commercial demand for satellite communications in the Arctic than in more populated areas, and commercial satellite coverage reflects that.
That leaves U.S. Northern Command with a significant gap in the connections available to its war fighters and platforms.
“Connection capabilities [in the Arctic] are limited and lack resiliency. We’re challenged in areas from basic point-to-point connections to communication with our distributed sensors,” Lazane said. “Having a reliable broadband communications capability for Arctic operations is the top unfunded priority of USNORTHCOM. With the increase of great power competition in the Arctic, there is a need for additional communications capability and capacity.”
But the command thinks it’s found a solution in the form of new, proliferated commercial constellations. Private companies OneWeb and SpaceX have launched hundreds of satellites into low-Earth orbit in an effort to provide competitive broadband to users all around the world.
USNORTHCOM is asking Congress for $130m to explore OneWeb’s and SpaceX’s capabilities in order to provide reliable and potentially cost-effective connectivity to Arctic platforms, installations and war fighters.
“Leveraging emerging proliferated low-Earth orbit commercial SATCOM providers in the Arctic enables the United States (and our allies) the opportunity to scale communications capability and capacity quickly in a cost-effective manner,” Lazane said. “The unique capabilities provided by PLEO [proliferated low-Earth orbit] commercial SATCOM providers in the Arctic enables access to high-bandwidth, low-latency communications capability and capacity.”
In a February 11 letter to Congress, USNORTHCOM Commander Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy said that funding for this effort was his No. 1 unfunded priority. If approved, the $130m in funding will be used for polar communications experiments as well as the fielding of prototype terminals that can connect to commercial PLEO constellations.
If those experiments prove successful, USNORTHCOM would need another $110m in fiscal 2022 for full coverage. SpaceX has stated that its Starlink constellation will begin offering broadband services this year, and USNORTHCOM is hopeful that could enable early Arctic capability by the end of the year. (Source: Satnews)
12 May 20. The Latest Chinese Space Launch Presents Both a Problem and an Opportunity for NASA. China has successfully launched its Long March 5B rocket, putting a prototype of its new crewed spacecraft into low Earth orbit. As Ars Technica suggests, China has advanced its space effort considerably, allowing it to perform a variety of space missions that promise to match and even exceed anything that NASA has achieved. The launch presents a problem for the space agency but also an opportunity.
The Long March 5B will be used to build China’s modular space station, due to be completed by 2022. The rocket will also be used to send a lander to the planet Mars this July.
The crewed spacecraft has been described as roughly the equivalent of NASA’s Orion. It will be able to transport six astronauts. It can be used to send astronauts to and from the planned space station. The spacecraft can also help take Chinese astronauts to the moon. The prototype, after executing a series of maneuvers, returned to Earth safely.
The expansion of Chinese space capabilities presents a problem. The nation that first becomes a space-faring superpower will own the future. Other countries will look to it for guidance and emulation. The nation that is first in space will become the sole superpower on Earth.
One school of thought believes that accomplishments in space ought to be celebrated no matter what nation carries them out. Indeed, China’s efforts to become a space power should be a cause for NASA and its commercial allies to invite it to become a partner in the quest to return to the moon — but such a move would be a grievous mistake.
The coronavirus pandemic coverup that the Beijing government committed proves that China does not play well with others. Chinese imperial adventures in the South China Sea and elsewhere in the world, its campaign of cyber espionage and intellectual property theft and its human rights violations drive home that lesson.
Those facts bring us to the opportunity that China’s space feats provide NASA. If China’s perfidy surrounding the coronavirus pandemic suggests that a new Cold War exists between it and the West, it would seem that it is time to bring back a Cold War strategy. Namely, it’s time to throw down the gauntlet and declare a space race between China and the rest of the world.
The idea of a space race seems retro in a world where space cooperation between nations is the norm. But one should consider that when President John F. Kennedy issued the challenge to send a man to the moon and bring him safely to the Earth, American experience in space was all of 15 minutes, thanks to Alan Shepard’s suborbital flight. Just over eight years later Americans landed on the moon and returned to universal acclaim, remarkable progress in so short a time.
Ah, but didn’t America, so soon after going to the moon, stop? The danger of a space race is that once the objective is achieved no incentive remains to press on.
The objective of the Apollo race to the moon was narrowly defined. Man to the moon. Return him safely to the Earth. Once accomplished, the powers that be saw no reason to continue. Even so, the Apollo 11 moon landing accomplished the larger goal of proving to the world that the future did not belong to the Soviet Union but rather the United States. 20 years later the Berlin Wall fell.
The trick is to define what the goal of the new space race should be in such a way as to make it open ended. The first side to return to the moon, establish a base and commercially develop its resources should be considered the winner. The objective has a tangible benefit: creating wealth and economic growth that goes beyond flags and footprints. Accomplishing it will show the world who owns the future — China, with its system of totalitarian oppression or the West, led by America, with its tradition of freedom and tolerance.
NASA has certain competitive advantages that China lacks. The space agency has decades of experience in space flight and innovation. NASA also has commercial alliances with entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. With Chinese competition in space as an incentive, one can imagine what progress could be made in a short time.
All victory in the new space race needs is the full support of the United States government and its citizens, to see the thing through. (Source: Satnews)
12 May 20. Spacecom + Comtech EF Data’s Demo 1.3 Gigabit C-Band Link Via AMOS-17 Satellite. Spacecom (Tel Aviv Stock Exchange: SCC), operator of the AMOS satellite fleet, and Comtech Telecommunications Corp. (NASDAQ: CMTL) have successfully demo’d a 1.3 Gbps link using Comtech EF Data’s CDM-760 Advanced High-Speed Trunking and Broadcast Modems operating over AMOS-17 C-band HTS payload.
The exceptionally high throughput of 1.3 Gbps on a single link was established between two Telemedia facilities over AMOS-17’s C-band spot beam using a single CDM-760 modem per facility. Telemedia is a leading provider of broadcast and teleport services in South Africa.
In addition, using the DoubleTalk® Carrier-in-Carrier® adaptive cancellation functionality of the CDM-760, the team established a symmetrical 270Mbps/270 Mbps link between two Telemedia sites using a total of only 62.8 MHz on AMOS-17, achieving spectral efficiencies of 8.6 bits/Hz in such a high capacity C-band link. Ping tests showed that these links had a round-trip delay of less than 500ms, including the satellite link, modems and external routers, which is extremely low latency for a GEO satellite link.
According to Eran Shapiro, Director of Business and Technology Ventures at Spacecom, the company was thrilled to partner with Comtech EF Data and Telemedia to demonstrate the very high throughput customers can enjoy on AMOS-17 C-band spot beams, without having to compromise on service availability or on solution complexity. The throughput and efficiencies of AMOS-17’s spot beams are unique over Sub Saharan Africa. Comtech EF Data’s modems and team proved this, while only using one modem per site. Engaging the African market with key enabling connectivity technologies for commercial and government sectors is a strategic goal for Spacecom. Together with Comtech EF Data, we are able to address important market segments with cost-effective, easy to deploy and maintain solutions.
Mark Toppenberg, President of the Commercial Group at Comtech EF Data stated that it is exciting to see the AMOS-17 satellite performance that fully uses the functionality, horsepower and efficiency of Comtech EF Data’s high-performance satellite modems. Customers will really benefit from the high data rates that can be achieved even with small antennas. The combination of HTS throughput, C-band reliability and low latency makes the solution ideal for IP trunking, mobile backhaul, critical applications and remote enterprise offices. (Source: Satnews)
11 May 20. NewSpace Systems to Supply Product for the Kinéis Smallsat IoT Constellation. NewSpace Systems (NSS), the manufacturer of “lean”, high-quality space components and sub-systems, has been down-selected by the Hemeria team to provide several of the ADCS products for the Kinéis constellation. This constellation of smallsats will be dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT).
The South African company design and manufacture a range of components and sub-systems from both its facilities in South Africa and the United Kingdom. Particularly strong in the area of Attitude Control Systems, NewSpace predominantly focuses on the smallsat market.
NSS CEO James Barrington-Brown said the company is excited to announce that with the successful completion of the EQSR last month, the NSS team is now working closely with the Hemeria team on the qualification phase for this program. (Source: Satnews)
11 May 20. Threats to Japan’s Satellites to be Monitored by the Nation’s New Space Ops Unit. Japan will launch the nation’s first space operations unit within the Air Self-Defense Force on May 18 to monitor threats to Japanese satellites in outer space, this according to Japan’s Defense Minister Taro Kono. The Space Domain Mission Unit will be tasked with tracking space debris and meteorites that could hit Japanese surveillance satellites orbiting Earth, Kono said last week, telling a news conference that countermeasures against (space) debris are extremely important. Japan will look into expanding the scale of the unit in the future.
The new space unit will be based at the ASDF Fuchu Air Base in the suburbs of Tokyo and staffed with approximately 20 personnel, according to the Defense Ministry. The ministry aims to establish a space monitoring system in collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and U.S. forces. The new unit is expected to become fully operational in fiscal 2023. (Source: Satnews)
14 May 20. Kratos wins contract to upgrade ground system for AFSCN. Kratos Defense & Security Solutions has secured a contract to upgrade the satellite ground system for the Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN). Under the $4.9m contract, the company will modernise the infrastructure and systems that interconnect the AFSCN sites under the AFSCN Network Edge Transport System (ANETS) programme.
The contract further allows AFSCN to leverage existing technology as it shifts to a digital IP architecture. With the ANETS system, it will be able to meet the growing needs of its user community.
Kratos Space Federal SATCOM & Ground Systems vice-president Mike Rice said: “Kratos is deeply experienced with the AFSCN, having provided services to support the AFSCN in the past.
“The new ANETS system will enable the AFSCN to more efficiently scale to meet the increasing demands from AFSCN users.”
For CACI, the prime contractor for the programme, and the government, Kratos will provide a modular, low-risk, turnkey, integrated solution based on mature commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology. This solution will consist of Wide Area Network Interface Function (WANIF) and Wide Area Network (WAN) Resource Manager (WRM) systems. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
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