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26 Jun 20. Kleos Space to Launch Development Technology into Orbit – 3rd July 2020.
* Kleos Space to launch new data collecting technology as a ‘hosted payload’ on board the Faraday-1 mission
* Launch date – 3rd July 2020
* Launch of development technology significant step on R&D roadmap adding value to the Company
* Additional to imminent PSLV C49 launch from India of the Kleos Scouting Mission
Kleos Space S.A. (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1), space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data provider, is launching new data collecting technology (software defined radio payload) integrated in an In-Space Missions Ltd (In-Space) Faraday-1 spacecraft to be launched into a sun-synchronous orbit from New Zealand on the 3rd July as part of the Company’s R&D programme.
Andy Bowyer, CEO of Kleos Space said: “It has been a pleasure to be part of this innovative service from In-Space, getting technology into Space that adds significant value to the Company and with the imminent launch of our first four satellites from India this is the start of an extremely exciting period for the Company.”
The launch of this new technology is a significant step on the Company technology roadmap to increase the range of target markets and is in addition to the Scouting Mission Satellites awaiting launch on PSLV C49 at the Sriharikota Range in India.
Over an estimated 2 year mission life, the Kleos payload will observe the Earth in a polar orbit, collecting revenue generating data including the: detection of ship radar for defence and security applications; investigation of spectrum use and derived data services in the 2.6GHz 4G band; and a wideband spectrum survey complementing the Kleos Scouting Mission data (155-165MHz part of the spectrum). This activity forms part of the Company’s ongoing R&D programme to develop and test methods of data collection technologies for future use and is carried out within the context of the Company’s existing strategy.
The payload comprises a new Software-defined radio (SDR) which is a form of computer that can perform the task of processing signals received by the antenna and other RF circuitry. SDR’s are the primary payload on all Kleos satellites, thus this development is a key step on the Company technology roadmap to increase the number of data sets, target markets and revenue opportunities.
The hosting of the payload on the In-Space Faraday satellite will provide wide area surveillance data and serves as a demonstrator payload for enhanced Kleos satellites post Scouting Mission where clusters of four satellites provide high accuracy geolocation capability.
Miles Ashcroft, CTO of Kleos Space said: “Aside from the potential data sales to be accrued by having assets in orbit, the benefits to our technology roadmap are enormous. Providing opportunities for development of the data infrastructure and delivery, insight into data use scenarios and a perspective on behaviour that allows us to improve flight operations for the Kleos Scouting Mission and inform development of subsequent missions.”
Tony Holt, CTO of In-Space said: “The Kleos payload is co-hosted on the first Faraday mission from In-Space where we have made use of tried and tested satellite technology to offer customers reliable and responsive low cost access to space as a service.”
Doug Liddle, CEO of In-Space said: “We look forward to supporting Kleos over the coming years on their mission and development programmes.”
25 Jun 20. Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Completes Second Flight from Spaceport America. Successful Glide Flight Puts Virgin Galactic on the Path for Space Flight from New Mexico. Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) (“Virgin Galactic” or “the Company”) today announced the successful completion of the second SpaceShipTwo test flight from Spaceport America. This flight follows the completion of the first test flight from the Company’s commercial headquarters in New Mexico on May 1, 2020, and marks another important milestone as the team progresses toward the launch of Virgin Galactic’s commercial service.
On SpaceShipTwo Unity’s flight deck were Mark ‘Forger’ Stucky and Michael ‘Sooch’ Masucci. Both pilots are commercial astronauts, having each previously flown Unity into space on different flights. Piloting the Company’s carrier aircraft, VMS Eve, were Nicola Pecile and CJ Sturckow.
This glide flight, flown at higher speeds, allowed the team to continue to evaluate systems and vehicle performance in advance of future rocket-powered space flights from the Company’s new operating base in New Mexico. Flying VSS Unity in glide configuration at higher speeds enables certain vehicle systems to operate close to the environment seen during phases of rocket boost on a spaceflight. The spaceship achieved a glide speed of Mach 0.85 after being released from the mothership VMS Eve at an altitude of 51,000 ft. Unity completed multiple test-points before touching back down smoothly for a runway landing at Spaceport America.
Forger and Sooch performed a series of maneuvers with Unity designed to gather data about performance and handling qualities while flying at higher speeds. This data will be verified against similar maneuvers that were performed in the previous glide flight to enhance aerodynamic modelling.
The test flight was conducted under a set of stringent operational protocols to ensure safety against COVID-19. These protocols include changes to the work areas and procedures to enforce social distancing as advised by state guidelines as well as universal mask usage.
Last weekend, the Company’s Spaceship and Propulsion teams completed a full ‘wet dress’ rehearsal designed to check out the new facilities and equipment at Spaceport America. During this rehearsal, the teams positioned the spaceflight system on the runway and loaded VSS Unity with active propellant.
Pending the completion of an extensive data review of this flight, the team will start preparing for the next stage of our flight test program – powered spaceflights from Spaceport America. In addition to the data review, we have several steps to complete, including final modifications to the spaceship customer cabin and detailed inspections of the vehicle and systems.
Virgin Galactic would like to express its thanks to New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA), the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Albuquerque Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), and the FAA Air Traffic Control Center in Albuquerque for smooth coordination and efficient integration.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said: “I’m excited by the continued progress Virgin Galactic has made in New Mexico and confident in their work going forward. Our state has the opportunity to be a leader in commercial spaceflight, and partners like Virgin Galactic are leading the way.”
George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company said: “I am thrilled with the team’s hard work to complete today’s test flight successfully. It was an important test that, pending data review, means we can now start preparing the vehicles for powered flight. Our focus for this year remains unchanged on ensuring the vehicles and our operations are prepared for long-term, regular commercial spaceflight service.” (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
25 Jun 20. UK ready to invest millions to back OneWeb bid. Move comes as government explores options for global navigation system. Bids for OneWeb are due in by Friday and several bidders are understood to be lining up, including from France and China. Boris Johnson has pledged hundreds of millions of pounds to invest in the collapsed satellite operator OneWeb, in a move that underlines the government’s push to put the UK at the forefront of space technology. The prime minister’s decision to put up about £500m of taxpayers’ money to invest in UK-based OneWeb — as part of a wider private-sector consortium bid — confirms the government is confident about acquiring state ownership in leading sectors. If the bid is successful, the British state could end up with more than 20 per cent in OneWeb. Dominic Cummings, Mr Johnson’s chief adviser, was instrumental in pushing the case for the investment, which seeks to secure a frontline position for Britain in cutting-edge satellite navigation systems. The decision to invest was taken after an extended meeting between Mr Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday. The government declined to comment, but it has a manifesto commitment to invest in industries of the future, including space, life sciences, clean energy, robotics and artificial intelligence. British companies were barred from the EU’s Galileo global navigation system after Brexit.
But following 18 months of studying proposals for its own service — with the price tag soaring from £4bn to more than £5bn — the UK government decided to bid for OneWeb instead. OneWeb, which has its global headquarters in the UK but substantial operations in the US, entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March after failing to secure $2bn in new funding from investors including Japan’s SoftBank, its biggest backer. Bids for OneWeb are due in by Friday and several bidders are understood to be lining up offers, including from France and China. The prime minister appears to have been won over by proposals from the Satellite Applications Catapult this year to develop an innovative positioning technology that could be installed on OneWeb’s low-earth-orbiting satellites, several people with knowledge of the discussions said. The company, which originally intended to offer affordable internet services to the remotest parts of the planet, has 74 satellites in orbit and plans for several hundred more.
OneWeb also has a significant advantage in that it has priority on broadcast spectrum over SpaceX’s Starlink, a rival low-earth satellite internet service, people close to the subject said. Recommended Space industry Industry pushes for UK space programme ahead of Brexit In April, OneWeb approached the UK government for a £500m loan as part of a wider $2.2bn financing from private investors. However, the government has decided on an equity investment to preserve its influence. The company is regulated by the UK’s Ofcom, but its management is largely American. Its satellites are also manufactured in Florida in a joint venture with Airbus. It has promised to repatriate manufacturing to the UK. The government’s potential participation in a OneWeb bid has been the focus of fierce opposition in some parts of the space industry, which had hoped to win positions on a Galileo-style navigation project. Critics have dismissed the low-earth technology as unproven and fraught with risk. However, a deciding factor appears to have been support from US defence officials who have told the government they do not want the UK to develop a replica of the GPS system. A low-earth navigation service would complement the US system and offer extra resilience to US allies, say several parties close to the subject.
BATTLESPACE Comment: An amateur space expert is always dangerous! This initiative believed to be led by Dominic Cummings in his bid for technology to lead the UK out of Brexit and COVID-19 has its pitfalls! I can almost see the headline now, ‘millions wasted by Johnson initiative into OneWeb investment!’
To succeed in precision navigation and missile targeting any GNSS system requires complete accuracy which is why the majority of the world’s systems such as the US GPS, Europe’s Galileo, Russia’s Glasnost and the Indian NaviC systems are all Near Earth Orbit (NEO) systems not Low Earth Orbit (LEO) such as OneWEb. LEO systems by their very name are vulnerable to being taken out by missiles and also suffer from magnetic field interference which is crucial at a time when the earth’s magnetic field is now moving. Politically post-Brexit the government’s aim appears to be to move away from Europe’s influence and build a system around the ‘5 Eyes.’ OneWeb’s top four shareholders are Softbank (37.41%), Qualcomm (15.93%), Greg Wyler’s 1110 Ventures LLC, (11.94%), and Airbus (8.5%). With the bankruptcy filing, OneWeb joins the rank of companies that ran out of money trying to launch and operate large numbers of communications satellites into low Earth orbit. The UK has invested a huge amount of technology and money into Galileo and in our view, a smoother way out would be to use the UK’s Galileo technology as a bargaining chip to keep the UK in Galileo. This OneWEeb move is seen as a knee jerk reaction from a government which, after the COVID-19 App debacle is clearly not tech-savvy! In addition to the technology pitfalls, the £500m pledged is for the UK to become a 20% partner of a private sector consortium, thus the UK Government will not have control over the system for any military applications and there will be considerable security implications given the minority stake in a private consortium.
24 Jun 20. Senate bill would add $120m for hypersonic tracking satellites. The Senate’s annual defense policy bill would authorize an additional $120m toward a space-based sensor layer capable of tracking hypersonic weapons, despite the fact the Department of Defense did not seek more funding for the project in its fiscal 2021 budget requests.
The Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor is DoD’s answer to the growing threat posed by hypersonic weapons being developed by China and Russia. Hypersonic weapons present a significant challenge to the United States’ current missile warning architecture. Not only can these weapons maneuver around ground based sensors, they’re too dim to be picked up and tracked by space-based sensors in higher orbits.
HBTSS theoretically solves this problem via a proliferated constellation of Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) sensors operating in low earth orbit. At that lower orbit, the sensors will be able to pick up and track the otherwise dim objects. But because the satellites are closer to the earth and have a limited field of view, the system will need to pass off custody responsibility from sensor to sensor as the weapons traverse the globe. Hence the need for a proliferated constellation.
HBTSS will plug into the Space Development Agency’s National Defense Space Architecture, a new system of satellites operating in low earth orbit.
The Missile Defense Agency awarded $20m contracts to four companies in October to develop HBTSS prototypes: Northrop Grumman, Leidos, Harris Corporation and Raytheon.
The Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act would authorize the Missile Defense Agency $120m in research, development, testing and engineering funds for HBTSS.
If passed, this would be the second consecutive year the department did not include money for HBTSS in its annual budget request, but Congress allocated money for the project anyway. In 2019, MDA put the program at the top of its unfunded priority list, seeking $108m for that effort. Congress fully funded that request in the legislation that passed in December.
The decision to give the HBTSS funding to the Missile Defense Agency in fiscal year 2021 continues a 2019 battle between the administration and Congress over which agency should lead the program’s development effort. While lawmakers wanted to place MDA firmly in charge of the effort, the White House argued that it was too soon to put one agency in charge. Ultimately, Congress included a provision putting primary responsibility for the development and deployment of the system in MDA’s hands.
Just three months after that legislation passed, lawmakers expressed frustration and confusion over MDA’s FY2021 budget request, which sought to transfer HBTSS funding responsibility to SDA. While MDA Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill tried to assure legislators at the March hearing that his agency was fully in charge of developing the sensor for HBTSS, skepticism has continued. According to Hill, funding for the effort would be allocated to SDA, who would in turn provide the funding to MDA. As currently drafted, the legislation de facto rejects DoD’s request to transfer funding responsibility to SDA.
Furthermore, it specifically assigns principal responsibility for the development and deployment of HBTSS through the end of FY2022, after which it may be transferred over to the U.S. Space Force.
It’s not the only legislative proposal emphasizing Congress’ desire for MDA to be in charge of the system.
The House version of the FY2021 defense bill made public in June asks for the Secretary of Defense to certify that MDA is indeed in charge of HBTSS. According to a defense official, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin sent a letter signed May 29 certifying that MDA was in charge of payload development. Griffin has since resigned, stating that he has received an opportunity to work in the private sector.
The Senate version requires on orbit testing of HBTSS to begin by December 31, 2022, with full operational deployment as soon as technically feasible. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
24 Jun 20. Iridium Selects Relativity Space as On-Demand Single Satellite Launch Partner. Relativity’s 3D Printed Terran 1 Launch Vehicle Offers Dedicated Missions for Iridium® Ground Spare Satellite Deployments.
Relativity Space today announced that Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: IRDM) has signed a launch contract to deliver satellites to orbit. The contract includes flexible timing for up to six dedicated launches to deploy Iridium’s ground spare satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The launches will take place on an as-needed basis, determined by Iridium and utilizing Relativity’s Terran 1, the world’s first 3D printed launch vehicle. Launches are planned for no earlier than 2023.
The second-generation Iridium constellation was completed in January 2019 and consists of 66 operational satellites and 9 in-orbit spares. An additional six satellites were manufactured as ground spares and remain in storage. Should the need arise to launch a ground spare, Relativity’s Terran 1 offers a cost-effective, efficient response time option for Iridium to quickly deploy a satellite to one of its six orbital planes. Relativity’s disruptive large-scale robotic 3D printing technology enables launches within months, instead of years.
“The upgraded Iridium satellite constellation is operating incredibly well, but it’s prudent to have a cost-effective launch option available for future spare delivery,” said Matt Desch CEO of Iridium. “Relativity’s Terran 1 fits our launch needs to LEO well from both a price, responsiveness and capability perspective. And we know based on our previous experience that there are great benefits to engaging with a provider early on during development of the launch vehicle and it evolving around our particular needs.”
On June 24, 2020, Relativity also announced a Right of Entry Agreement with the United States Air Force, 30th Space Wing, for development of rocket launch facilities at Vandenberg Air Force Base. These launch site facilities will support flights to the polar orbits needed for the Iridium satellite constellation.
“Iridium offers critical communications over the planet’s entire surface, and we are very proud to be their launch partner that supports this capability,” said Tim Ellis, CEO and co-founder, Relativity Space. “As the first 3D printed launch vehicle, Terran 1 offers uniquely disruptive flexibility, cost, and performance advantages, especially for medium-payload missions that need dedicated launches.”
Relativity continues to grow its customer manifest and public-private partnerships. This agreement is the fifth announced launch customer for Relativity, and the first to take advantage of the company’s recently announced Right of Entry at Vandenberg Air Force Base. A potential launch site at Vandenberg is Relativity’s latest addition to its portfolio of major infrastructure partnerships, which also include a launch site Right of Entry at Cape Canaveral Launch Complex-16 and an exclusive-use Commercial Space Launch Act (CSLA) agreement for NASA test sites E4 and E2 at the NASA Stennis Space Center.
About Relativity Space
Relativity is the first autonomous rocket factory and launch services leader for satellite payloads. The company’s vision is to expand the possibilities for human experience by building the future of humanity in space, faster — starting with rockets. Disrupting 60 years of aerospace, Relativity’s factory vertically integrates intelligent robotics and 3D autonomous manufacturing technology to build the world’s first entirely 3D printed rocket, Terran 1. Relativity is the first application-layer 3D printing company; Terran 1 is the first application. Terran 1 has 100x lower part count than traditional rockets, a radically simple supply chain, and will be built from raw material to flight in less than 60 days with unparalleled iteration speed. As a next-generation space company, Relativity deploys and resupplies satellite payloads with industry-defining lead time, flexibility, and cost to better connect and secure our planet.
Relativity is backed by leading investors including Bond, Tribe Capital, Playground Global, Y Combinator, Social Capital, and Mark Cuban. For more information, please visit https://www.relativityspace.com/ and connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
24 Jun 20. Northrop Grumman Completes Preliminary Design Review for Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared Subsystem. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and Ball Aerospace have successfully completed the preliminary design review (PDR) for the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next Gen OPIR) Geosynchronous (GEO) Block 0 mission payload. Next-Gen OPIR is a satellite system that will provide improved missile warning capabilities that are more resilient against emerging threats. As the successor to the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS), Next-Gen OPIR’s first block of satellites will include five space vehicles, three in geosynchronous earth orbit and two in polar orbit.
“The successful PDR for the Next-Gen OPIR subsystem is a significant program milestone,” said Bob Mehltretter, vice president, military and civil space, Northrop Grumman. “The subsystem and payload designs meet key mission performance requirements and support the national security imperative of launching the initial Next-Gen GEO mission payload.”
With the successful completion of the PDR, Northrop Grumman will continue maturing the designs of Next-Gen OPIR’s subsystem and its payload as it works to support the Air Force’s commitment to field new capabilities rapidly to meet evolving threats. Northrop Grumman and Ball Aerospace are on track to complete the payload’s Critical Design Review in May 2021.
24 Jun 20. Curtin Uni Data Science Innovation Hub to support space data analysis facility. Western Australia’s Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, in partnership with the Curtin University-based WA Data Science Innovation Hub (WADSIH), has been awarded more than $2m in federal and state government funding to establish a new national space data analysis facility in Perth.
The Australian Space Data Analysis Facility (ASDAF) will support researchers and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) with space data analytics and expertise to benefit industries including, but not limited to, agriculture, mining, emergency services and maritime surveillance.
Located at Pawsey, one of Australia’s two Tier 1 high-performance computing and data research facilities, the new facility builds on WA’s competitive advantage and expertise in data analytics.
The facility will support the growth of the Australian space industry, creating employment opportunities by accelerating the commercialisation of new products and services.
Mark Stickells, Pawsey’s executive director, said, “Pawsey has a long history of collaboration and engagement across industry sectors and research domains, powered by leading technology and expertise. Working with the Australian Space Agency is a tremendous opportunity to build upon this history and unlock the value in the data intensive operations that support the Australian space industry.”
Stickells acknowledged the support of both federal and state governments to launch the ASDAF, with Pawsey receiving $1.5m from the Australian Space Agency’s Space Infrastructure Fund.
The new facility aims to increase the likelihood of commercialisation success by connecting and leveraging existing national and state-based computing and data resources and seeking to lower the cost and risk of exploratory and novel use of space data for organisations and researchers.
Space data-related solutions have fantastic potential to provide new tools for farmers, support emergency services, or help manage drought. Innovating through the use of space data to develop new products and services will also allow Australian businesses to access international opportunities.
Pawsey will host the infrastructure, working with data custodians to manage and provide access to data products.
The WA Data Science Innovation Hub (WADSIH) will advise on data analytics best practice, how to develop in-house capability, and how to use data to grow business.
WADSIH director Dr Liz Dallimore is looking forward to the opportunity to extend the hub’s reach through this facility.
In its first phase, the new facility will hold a series of industry and stakeholder virtual roundtables to establish the key requirements and inform the design of the centre’s programs of work.
Dr Dallimore explained, “WADSIH was established in 2018 as a joint Curtin and WA government initiative to enable Western Australia to build a data-driven ecosystem and culture.
“The Australian Space Data Analysis Facility will allow us to continue fostering collaboration, promoting expertise, and supporting data literacy that will bring benefit to the broader Australian space sector.”
The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Perth is an unincorporated joint venture between Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, and Western Australia’s four public universities supported by the WA and federal governments. CSIRO manages Pawsey as a national research facility available to the broader science community.
Pawsey is also a key stakeholder in the WA Data Science Innovation Hub and has partnered with WADSIH to establish the space data analysis facility.
Both Pawsey and WADSIH will support and provide access to data and capability development to enable the growth of new jobs and companies in Australia. (Source: Space Connect)
23 Jun 20. China puts final satellite for Beidou navigation network into orbit. China on Tuesday successfully put into orbit the final satellite of its Beidou navigation network, rival to the U.S.-owned GPS.
The mission was originally set for June 16, but was cancelled at the last minute due to technical problems detected during pre-launch tests of the Long March-3B carrier rocket.
The Beidou-3 satellite is the 35th and final satellite of the Chinese navigation system – an estimated $10bn project meant to be Beijing’s answer to the U.S.-owned Global Positioning System (GPS).
The idea to develop Beidou, or the Big Dipper in Chinese, took shape in the 1990s as China’s military sought to reduce its reliance on GPS, which is run by the U.S. Air Force.
Coverage was limited to China when the first Beidou-1 satellites were launched in 2000.
The second generation of Beidou-2 satellites went into operation in 2012, covering the Asia-Pacific region.
In 2015, China began deploying the third generation of Beidou-3 satellites aimed at global coverage. (Source: Jane’s)
22 Jun 20. Missile warning satellite completes space environment testing. The Space Force’s next missile warning satellite has successfully completed two months of testing to ensure it will survive in the harsh environment of space, according to the program’s prime contractor Lockheed Martin.
The company said that the fifth geosynchronous Space Based Infrared System satellite completed its thermal vacuum (TVAC) testing June 9, bringing it one step closer to launch. During testing, the satellite was exposed to heat and cold in a depressurized atmosphere that mimics the environmental effects of space.
The SBIRS constellation provides missile warning capabilities to the U.S. military, detecting missile launches all around the globe and feeding that data to the nation’s missile defense architecture. The constellation currently includes four geosynchronous satellites with two additional satellites in highly elliptical orbits for global coverage.
The successful testing — which began April 16 ? is also a major milestone for Lockheed Martin, since SBIRS GEO-5 is the first military satellite built on the company’s modernized LM 2100 bus.
“The completion of TVAC can be attributed to a tremendous effort from the Air Force, Lockheed Martin, Aerospace Corporation, and supporting contractor teams,” Tucker White, SBIRS GEO-5 assembly, test, and launch operations lead from the government’s program office, said in a statement. “The teams worked around the clock and finished on schedule to their original projection. This test phase is vital to any space vehicle test regime and takes GEO-5 one step closer to providing enhanced missile detection to our warfighters.”
The satellite is expected to launch in 2021.
In 2014, Lockheed Martin was awarded $1.86bn to build the fifth and sixth geosynchronous SBIRS satellites, which will replace the first two in the constellation. Those two satellites will be the final additions to the SBIRS constellation. Plans for two more satellites were scrapped in 2018. Instead, the Department of Defense is investing in the Next Gen Overhead Persistent Infrared, which will consist of three satellites in geosynchronous orbit and two covering the polar regions.
Lockheed Martin was selected to build the former while Northrop Grumman was selected to build the latter. The first Next Gen OPIR satellite is expected to be delivered in 2025. (Source: Defense News)
22 Jun 20. Russia revives early warning satellite system with enhanced capabilities. With the launch on 22 May of the fourth Tundra-series satellite into long-dwell orbit, deployment was completed of the minimum capability in the Russian early warning missile defence system.
Tundra satellites operate as part of the Kupol integrated space system (formerly known as EKS), which is designed to track ballistic missile launches.
The satellite constellation is equipped with telescopes designed to detect the launch of enemy ballistic missiles by their powerful IR emissions, which can be observed from space. Early warning satellites are launched either into highly elliptical orbit (with a 40,000-50,000km apogee) or geosynchronous orbit that allows the satellite to loiter over a particular area on the planet.
The Russian early warning system faced serious problems after the collapse of the USSR in 1991. Most of the radars located on the borders of the Soviet Union turned out to be on the territory of independent states, and the issue of their use often became the subject of political and economic bargaining, if not blackmail.
By the early 2010s, Russia had managed to ensure full independence of its early warning system by deploying new-generation radars of the Voronezh series on its territory. However, early warning satellites remained a problem. Just two Soviet-era satellites were operational by 2014, meaning that the system operated for only a few hours a day.
The four-satellite Kupol constellation monitors on a 24-hour basis the location of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) on US territory and the main patrolling areas of ballistic missile submarines in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Russia intends to add five more Kupol satellites; a constellation of nine would extend geographical coverage, establish a reserve in case one or more satellites fail and enable areas of interest to be monitored by multiple satellites simultaneously (which reduces the risk of a false alarm being generated).
Kupol marks a capability leap compared to the previous generation of Oko and Oko-1 satellites, which were launched in the Soviet era. The most important advantage of the new constellation is its ability not only to detect an enemy ballistic missile launch, but also to determine the parameters of its primary trajectory.
This, in turn, gives more time for Russian decision-makers to analyse the situation. Previously, accurate determination of the trajectory of the enemy’s ballistic missiles and their warheads was possible only after their detection by ground-based early warning radars, the detection range of which is 5,000-6,000km. If necessary, the satellites themselves can also relay orders from the top leadership to deliver a retaliatory strike.
Kupol satellites can detect cruise missile as well as ICBM launches, which allows the use of the constellation during a non-nuclear conflict. Such flexibility gives the system practical value beyond a role in the nuclear deterrence system. (Source: Shephard)
22 Jun 20. ViaLite RFoF Links for Aircraft Timing Test Support. High accuracy timing and synchronization signals are an essential requirement in mission-critical IT systems, which is why a leading military aerospace company is using ViaLite RF over fiber (RFoF) distributed GPS/GNSS equipment.
ViaLite’s GPS lossless distributed multi-port fiber optic links are being used to simultaneously transport the company’s timing signals from GPS antennas to multiple S650 GPS referenced Network Time Protocol (NTP) time servers, for timing-test support in a military aeronautics application.
Equipment being used includes ViaLite’s first-to-market, Multizone Lossless Splitters – providing GPS optical splitting (1×8, 1×16 and 1×32) – and the new 1U chassis with Local Integrated GPS Splitters (1×8, 2×8, 4×8, 1×16, 2×16). ViaLite’s compact Blue OEM modules were also supplied for the link receiver side.
“ViaLite equipment was chosen for its leading edge performance, that also provides a very cost effective manner in which to send GPS/GNSS signals from one antenna to multiple remote locations,” said ViaLite director of sales Craig Somach.
22 Jun 20. LeoStella Delivers First BlackSky Satellites from its New Production Line. Rapid low-cost manufacturing of high-quality satellites is a reality. LeoStella, a specialized satellite constellation design and manufacturer, announced today the delivery of the first two satellites fully manufactured from its state-of-the-art production line. The satellites are the fifth and sixth of an ongoing Earth observation constellation program for the global monitoring company, BlackSky. LeoStella’s intelligent manufacturing facility is the first of its kind and opened in 2019. The satellites were delivered to the launch facility on June 1, 2020 and have been prepared for an upcoming SpaceX launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
LeoStella’s ability to minimize costs and reduce development and manufacturing time helps meet the increasing demand for satellite constellations in a time sensitive ecosystem. LeoStella’s new production facility was developed to change the way satellites and constellations are produced to better meet the needs of agile space customers. The factory is a fully digital and networked environment that includes intelligent workstations, connected tools, automated test equipment, statistical process control, embedded product assurance, and a custom Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP) backbone that manages and tracks all activities. Coupled with the manufacturing process is a robust supply chain of industry leaders with a focus on advanced technologies that help LeoStella offer an exceptional value proposition for its customers.
“Successful delivery of these two BlackSky satellites marks another major milestone in LeoStella’s promise of rapid, low-cost, high-performance satellite constellations,” said Mike Hettich, CEO of LeoStella. “In a short time, we have created the designs, infrastructure, tools, and processes that enable constellation production at scale. Delivery of these satellites provides an important validation of our approach. It’s exciting to see the team bring our vision to reality.”
“LeoStella is a key partner in extending our global monitoring constellation,” said Brian O’Toole, CEO of BlackSky. “Their intelligent design and inventive manufacturing have established LeoStella as a leader in new space economics. Consequently, we’re able to deliver valuable first-to-know insights at a cost that makes it accessible for both business and government customers.”
The satellites weigh approximately 50-kilograms and are designed to be operated in a variety of LEO orbit altitudes and inclinations. They are compatible with a wide range of rideshare and dedicated launch vehicles. The satellites are based on a product optimized for imaging missions with high resolution, agility and stability and can be configured for alternate missions and payloads.
LeoStella is a state-of-the-art satellite design and manufacturing company transforming constellation construction by building smallsats cost-effectively and at scale. Based in Tukwila, Wash., LeoStella is a joint venture between Thales Alenia Space and Spaceflight Industries. The company was founded to meet the growing demand for efficient satellite development and manufacturing arising from the increasing number of constellations. For more information, visit https://www.leostella.com/.(Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
15 Jun 20. SpaceX Targeting This Summer for Starlink Service/More on OneWeb. After a day’s delay, a SpaceX rocket placed the ninth batch of Starlink satellites into orbit at 5:21 a.m., Florida time, on June 13th.
- The normal Starlink manifest is 60 satellites per launch; however, on this flight there was also a cargo of three ‘piggyback’ satellites for San Francisco-based Planet Labs and that firm’s SkySat Earth Observation (EO) satellites, and thus, the SpaceX’s portfolio was comprised 58 of their own craft.
A few minutes after launch, the Falcon 9 booster made a textbook landing onto the floating barge, ‘Of Course I Still Love You’. This was the third time that the booster had been recovered.
The launch means that SpaceX now has some 538 craft on orbit (and probably around 525-530 that are working as planned). Elon Musk says that his Starlink service will debut “later this summer,” first serving Alaska and the northern US and Canadian regions. He has said that he only needs about 400 satellites on orbit to provide a basic ‘beta’ service and that a fleet of 800 would provide “moderate” coverage for public subscribers/users.
The next Starlink launch is planned for June 24th. Potential users can now sign up (on the Starlink website) for hard news and service announcements.
Musk’s plan is to girdle the Earth with tens of thousands of broadband-friendly high-speed satellites. Musk says Starlink “will rapidly expand to near-global coverage of the populated world by 2021. Starlink will deliver high speed broadband Internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable.”
All that Musk now do is to develop global partners and customers to start paying for a service…
An additional post by Chris at the Advanced Television infosite reveals that would-be mega-constellation operator OneWeb, now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, has a key date looming — June 26th is a deadline for final bids to be entered for either the whole business or parts of the company.
The bankruptcy is being handled by a court in New York and, according to Space Intel Report (SIR), the original two Chinese companies to have expressed an interest has now grown to four in number.
SIR says that the initial tire-kicking from the likes of SpaceX and Amazon has faded while a Eutelsat/French-backed bid has failed to win support from outside France. There is still interest from UK and US parties. UK regulator Ofcom, for example, is the licensing authority for OneWeb. The UK military is said to be interested.
The rules of the bankruptcy are that, unless successful bids are entered by June 26th, then OneWeb will have an auction of assets on July 2nd. The auction is obliged to take the “highest or best bid” for the assets which will be sold free and clear of encumbrances.
Interested bidders have to pay a 10 percent deposit of the value of their bid. (Source: Satnews)
15 Jun 20. Sateliot’s Smallsat Constellation Plan Calls for $113m in Investments. Sateliot will invest more than 100 m euros ($113 m) through 2022 to launch their first constellation of smallsats.
The company, led by Jaume Sanpera and other founders of the Eurona satellite telecommunications company, will deploy a constellation of up to 100 nanosatellites over the next two years that will function as low-latency telecommunications towers for mobile operators who are deploying IoT services in remote areas where terrestrial networks do not reach.
The first two smallsats, which will be the size of a microwave oven, will provide low-latency IoT services from LEO after they are launched in late 2020. The rest of the constellation will be launched by the end of 2022 to provide global coverage to IoT operators. Sateliot’s British partner, Open Cosmos, will manufacture the satellites and manage their launch and operations.
The objective of Sateliot’s business plan is to close 2022 with a turnover of around 400m euros ($453m) and a total workforce of more than 100 people. To make this possible, Sateliot has completed its first capital raise of 2.4m euros ($2.7m) contributed by the company’s founders and business angels. Sateliot is currently negotiating a financing round with several interested international funds for an amount in excess of 10m euros ($11.25m).
Sateliot is working with various partners to demonstrate the service and sign user agreements. Those partners include a technology laboratory in Asia and an operator in the United States with which Sateliot plans to create a consortium. The European Space Agency is providing advice on the development and execution of the project.
Sateliot believes the IoT market with satellite connectivity will offer ample potential in the coming years. According to estimates by Riot Research, this market will be worth more than 5.4bn euros ($6.1bn) in 2025. Forecasts also indicate that 60 billion connected objects worldwide will be reached in that year.
Sateliot’s technology is complementary for IoT operators, to whom it can offer an extension of coverage for communications services in areas such as maritime, railway, aeronautics, connected vehicles, oil and gas exploration, electrical services, critical infrastructure, agro-technology and environmental monitoring.
Sateliot will be the first satellite telecommunications operator that will provide global and continuous connectivity to all IoT elements under a 5G architecture. Thanks to a constellation of the latest generation nanosatellites, Sateliot will provide large telecommunications companies with the necessary infrastructure in areas where terrestrial technologies do not reach.
“Only 10% of the land surface has mobile coverage, the remaining 90% does not, that is where the latest generation infrastructure of Sateliot comes into play as a complement to traditional operators to make possible the hyper-connected universe of the IOT with the arrival of 5G,” company CEO Sanpera said. (Source: Satnews)
15 Jun 20. Intelsat’s New Contracts for Satellites to Accommodate C-Band Spectrum Transition. Moving ahead to prepare for the accelerated C-band spectrum, Intelsat has contracted with U.S. manufacturers Maxar Technologies and Northrop Grumman to build new satellites in order to meet the accelerated C-band spectrum clearing timelines established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier this year.
Intelsat’s two new agreements are; one with Maxar Technologies to build and deliver four satellites; and another with Northrop Grumman to build and deliver two satellites. Intelsat is currently in negotiations with manufacturers for a seventh satellite required to support its C-band transition.
Intelsat Chief Services Officer Mike DeMarco stated that quickly clearing 300 megahertz of the U.S. C-band spectrum to make way for 5G wireless applications is a complex task, layered with a significant number of highly interdependent technical activities, including building and launching multiple new satellites designed to operate at the higher portion of the band. Intelsat looks forward to collaborating with their longstanding partners Maxar Technologies and Northrop Grumman on these critical builds, essential to clearing portions of the C-band spectrum and cementing America’s leadership in 5G.
Later this week, Intelsat plans to file its full C-band spectrum transition plan with the FCC in accordance with the FCC’s revised timeline. The plan will provide additional manufacturing and launch details for new satellites and outline the steps that Intelsat will take to reconfigure its terrestrial-based infrastructure and to ensure a successful transition. (Source: Satnews)
19 Jun 20. C6 Launch Systems to use Shetland Space Centre as Primary Launch Site. C6 Launch Systems and the Shetland Space Centre today announce the signing of a Letter of Intent for C6 Launch to use the Shetland Space Centre (SCC) in Unst as its primary launch facility.
“In SCC, C6 Launch finds a perfect partner. Shetland Space Centre will provide the required infrastructure, data communications, and tracking. Being at the northernmost location in Scotland is advantageous for inserting nano-satellites to the perfect orbit”, said Richard McCammon, President of C6 Launch Systems.
C6’s launch capability is designed for 30kg payloads in a 16U configuration delivered into a nominal 600km Sun Synchronous Orbit (SS0). Other orbits, altitudes and payloads are planned. C6 Launch will provide dedicated launch capacity for nano and CubeSat operators on demand. Shetland Space Centre will house all launch operation facilities, payload processing, integration/assembly facilities, launch pads, and security services.
Frank Strang, CEO of Shetland Space Centre, said: “We are looking forward greatly to this collaboration with C6 Launch Systems.
“Richard and his team have been very clear about their needs and hugely supportive of our plans to provide a route to market for small satellites here in Shetland.”
Shetland Space Centre recently completed its first community consultation as part of the process toward approval and licensing of launch operations by the UK Government. Shetlands expects to complete all submissions to the UK Government by the Fall of this year in order to be approved for launch operations in 2021.
About C6 Launch Systems – Small Payloads – On Time. On Target
C6Launch Systems is a Canadian-based space technology company developing a dedicated small-sat launch capability to deploy payloads where and when needed without compromising orbit or mission using proven, best-in-class equipment and integration from C6’s talented team of space engineers. For more information visit www.C6launch.com
About Shetland Space Centre
SSC plans to build and operate a satellite launch site and a ground station in Unst, Shetland, the UK’s most northerly island. It follows the identification in a major report for the UK Space Agency of Saxa Vord in Unst as the best location in the country for such a facility. SSC is already at work projects with several launch providers. Interest in SSC’s launch and ground station plans from the space industry, commercial and military, across the world is huge. https://shetlandspacecentre.com (Source: PR Newswire)
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