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14 Aug 20. New graphite epoxy motors will help launch ULA’s Vulcan Centaur rocket beginning in 2021. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) conducted its first ground test of an extended length 63-inch-diameter Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM 63XL) today in Promontory, Utah. This variation of the company’s GEM 63 strap-on booster was developed in partnership with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to provide additional lift capability to the Vulcan Centaur vehicle.
Northrop Grumman conducted the first test of its GEM 63XL rocket motor to serve the United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur on August 13 at its Promontory, Utah, facility.
“Our new GEM 63XL motors leverage its flight-proven heritage while utilizing state-of-the-art manufacturing technology to enhance launch vehicle heavy-lift capabilities,” said Charlie Precourt, vice president, propulsion systems, Northrop Grumman. “The GEM 63XL increases thrust and performance by 15-20 percent compared to a standard GEM 63.”
During today’s static test, the motor fired for approximately 90 seconds, producing nearly 449,000 pounds of thrust to qualify the motor’s internal insulation, propellant grain, ballistics and nozzle in a cold-conditioned environment. This test demonstrated materials and technologies similar to the GEM 63 rocket motor that qualified for flight in October 2019.
The GEM 63XL motor being prepared for static test firing in a Test Area test bay.
Northrop Grumman has supplied rocket propulsion to ULA and its heritage companies for a variety of launch vehicles since 1964. The GEM family of strap-on motors was developed starting in the early 1980s with the GEM 40 to support the Delta II launch vehicle. The company then followed with the GEM 46 for the Delta II Heavy, and the GEM 60, which flew 86 motors over 26 Delta IV launches before retiring in 2019 with 100 percent success. The first flight of the GEM 63 motors will be on a ULA Atlas V launch vehicle planned for fourth quarter 2020, and GEM 63XL motors will support the Vulcan rocket in 2021.
12 Aug 20. Elon Musk SpaceX to Launch Kleos Space 2nd Satellite Cluster.
Growing the Kleos Space Constellation.
- Substantial revenue increase with additional clusters
- SpaceX founded by Elon Musk, has developed a reusable rocket and launch system
- Falcon 9 is now the most-flown operational rocket in the United States
- First Cluster of Satellites Awaiting Launch in India
- Progress on Second Cluster for 2021 Launch
- Vision to deliver a trustworthy, cost effective, reconnaissance data product
- Over 100 active opportunities across the entire pipeline
Kleos Space (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service company, advises that it has signed a contract with Spaceflight Inc to carry and launch a cluster of Kleos satellites on the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch scheduled for mid 2021. This launch will be the second cluster launched by Kleos, following the expected launch of the Kleos Scouting Mission aboard the Indian Space Research Organisation’s PSLV C49 shortly.
Andy Bowyer, CEO of Kleos, said, “Our vision is to deliver a trustworthy, cost effective, reconnaissance data product with revisit rates that will help disrupt illegal activities, protect borders and save lives. The launch of the Polar Vigilance Mission means we take another step on that journey, collecting more data, over new areas opening additional markets whilst also providing a higher value product for our existing customer base.”
SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, has developed a reusable rocket and launch system to significantly reduce the cost of space flight. Spaceflight, a rideshare launch provider, have been engaged by Kleos for this launch aboard SpaceX Falcon 9.
Kleos have named this cluster the ‘Polar Vigilance’ Mission – a cluster of four satellites, launched into a 500km Sun Synchronous Orbit. The Polar Vigilance Mission will enhance the company’s RF geolocation data delivered by the Kleos Scouting Mission by covering areas North and South of the Scouting Mission’s 37 degree inclined orbit (Figure 1) in addition to increasing overall coverage time in the equatorial region.
Kleos’ objective is to own, launch and operate up to 20 clusters of satellites creating a constellation that provides critical coverage for monitoring global events and key locations of interest.
The Kleos business model is to create subscription-based revenues from delivery of essential data to government and commercial entities around the globe. Kleos will be the first company to fly clusters of four satellites to accurately detect and locate the usage of the RF spectrum by legitimate and illegitimate actors. The data is collected and downlinked from the satellites then processed through the Company’s proprietary algorithms. Once ‘packaged’ into data products and transferred to our licenced subscribers ‘as-a-service’, the same data can be sold an unlimited number of times creating annuity-type revenues.
11 Aug 20. Space Force defines ‘spacepower’ in capstone doctrine. In yet another step toward firmly establishing an independent identity from the other services, the U.S. Space Force has published a new document articulating “spacepower” as a separate and distinct form of military power.
The Space Capstone Publication is the Space Force’s first official doctrine, and it will serve as a foundation for further doctrines that will delve deeper into the thorny military issues confronting the nascent service. The document lays out when military spacepower should be employed, who makes up military space forces, and the culture those forces should build. Key to that culture is organizational agility, innovation and boldness.
“One of the principles of an independent service is the creation of doctrine,” said Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, chief of space operations. “The Space Capstone Publication explains why spacepower is a vital element of U.S. prosperity and security — now and in the future — and guides its employment in multidomain operations. As the USSF continues to grow and mature, we will continue to evolve our doctrine to stay on the cutting edge of defending our interests in space.”
Other services and joint documents lay out space-related doctrines, the Space Force noted in its announcement, but all of those were written when space was considered a benign domain. Now the military considers space a war-fighting domain — blame for which is placed squarely on the shoulders of America’s adversaries — and the service’s first doctrine reflects that.
The key concept to the capstone is that military spacepower consists of deterrent and coercive capabilities, and the Space Force must provide independent options to national and joint leadership with those capabilities. With the space domain defined as the “altitude where atmospheric effects on airborne objects becomes negligible,” spacepower is inherently global.
Work on the document began before the Space Force was even established in December 2019. The effort began with a small group of individuals of varying ranks and affiliations.
“It was a coalition of the willing,” said Col. Casey Beard, commander of Space Delta 9. “We started work in August 2019 and met every two weeks — brainstorming, debating, building an outline and assigning sections to draft.”
The Space Force then hosted a summit in February to formalize work on the doctrine, accepting input from military services and exchange officers from the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. (Source: Defense News)
10 Aug 20. Spacepower Is ‘Catastrophically Decisive’ In War: New Space Force Doctrine.
“Because military spacepower has the potential to be the difference between victory and defeat, it must be viewed with equal importance as military power in any other domain,” the Spacepower Capstone Publication says.
The Space Force’s long-awaited capstone doctrine sets out the new service’s raison d’etre, which includes providing decision-makers with potentially war-winning “spacepower” options for attacking enemy satellites in future conflicts.
The Space Capstone Publication: Spacepower “represents our Service’s first articulation of an independent theory of spacepower. This publication answers why spacepower is vital for our Nation, how military spacepower is employed, who military space forces are, and what military space forces value,” says Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond in the forward, released today.
As Breaking D readers know, crafting a warfighting doctrine for space has been on Raymond’s to-do list from the get-go, when he was first invested as head of Space Command last August, prior to the Space Force’s creation in December. After a year of wearing both command hats, Raymond is now in charge of Space Force. His successor at SPACECOM, Army Gen. James Dickinson, was confirmed by the Senate on Aug. 6.
The new document is based on concepts and definitions built by earlier doctrine papers on space operations by the Air Force and the Joint Staff, such as Joint Doctrine 3-14. However, it differs in one major aspect: it is the first one that looks at military space operations as a separate domain of warfare, rather than as a supporting function for other domains.
“From a doctrinal perspective, it is not a massive departure from 3-14 and previous Air Force and Joint doctrine, but it does make some philosophical changes that begin the process of separating spacepower doctrine from air, maritime, and land power,” Brian Weeden, head of programming planning at Secure World Foundation, says in an email.
At the same time, the document sets out to place military operations in space in a broader context as part of a national spacepower strategy that includes diplomacy and economic activity.
As tensions rise, ISR demand will increase exponentially as will the need for kinetic response to threats.
“It fully acknowledges that spacepower is not entirely a military activity and that military power and goals need to be placed in the context of broader national power and objectives. It also acknowledges that the military needs to be good stewards of space,” Weeden said.
Although not directly articulated, the publication has another purpose: to justify the creation of an independent Space Force. Thus, the document dedicates a good number of words characterizing “spacepower” as a vital form of national power, and military spacepower as a “critical manifestation of the high ground in modern warfare” that is a core factor in winning future wars.
“Military spacepower cannot unilaterally win wars, but like landpower, seapower, airpower, or cyberpower, its success, absence, or failure could prove catastrophically decisive in war. Because military spacepower has the potential to be the difference between victory and defeat, it must be viewed with equal importance as military power in any other domain,” the document argues. “This observation is the strategic imperative for creating the United States Space Force as an independent military Service capable of maximizing military spacepower as a distinct and vital formulation of military power.”
As a capstone document, the new doctrine is a baseline document to be followed by more specific doctrines that lay out operational responses and standard tactical procedures. It sets terms and concepts, and forms a framework for military space operators to follow in undertaking their jobs. The capstone doctrine will be reviewed and potentially updated every four years.
“The Space Capstone Publication is the inaugural doctrine manual for the United States Space Force, providing a basis for training and education, and informs decision-making, mission analysis, objectives, and the development of military space strategy in support of national security, national defense, and national military strategies,” the document explains.
The document lays out what Space Force calls “three Cornerstone Responsibilities” that it says “form the vital purpose of military spacepower:”
- Preserve Freedom of Action in the space domain. The United States’ ability to project and employ national power is predicated on access to space. Therefore, unfettered access to and freedom to operate in space is a vital national interest.
- Enable Joint Lethality and Effectiveness. Given the vital and interdependent nature of military spacepower within the Joint Force, military space forces must comprehensively and effectively integrate space capabilities into Joint training, planning, and operations. Maximizing Joint lethality and effectiveness requires a cadre of military space forces that are deliberately prepared to integrate spacepower across the range of national and Joint operations.
- Provide Independent Options to U.S. national leadership capable of achieving national objectives. Because nations can generate and apply national power from space, actions in the domain can directly affect a nation’s decision calculus. Therefore, a central tenet of military spacepower is the ability to independently achieve strategic effects. In this capacity, military spacepower is more than an adjunct to landpower, seapower, airpower, and cyberpower. Across the conflict continuum, military spacepower provides national leadership with independent military options that advance the nation’s prosperity and security. Military space forces achieve national and military objectives by operating in, from and to the space domain.
In order to accomplish these, the document says, “military space forces must be organized, trained, and equipped to perform five Core Competencies: Space Security; Combat Power Projection, Space Mobility and Logistics; Information Mobility; and Space Domain Awareness (SDA). Command and control, and stewardship of the domain, enable military space forces to accomplish these core competencies.”
Like its predecessor doctrinal documents, as well as the Trump administration’s Space Policy Directive 4 (SPD-4), the Space Capstone Publication explains that “combat power” in space will be used for both defensive and offensive purposes. The document also makes clear that spacepower can be employed using lethal and non-lethal means “in, from and through space.”
“Defensive operations enhance control by protecting and preserving U.S. freedom of action in the space domain,” it says. Defensive operations can be passive, such as ensuring spacecraft maneuverability or building large constellations; or active measures ” to destroy, nullify, or reduce the effectiveness of
threats.” Active measures, it notes, could include “proactive” actions in the face of an imminent threat.
As for offensive operations: “When warranted, offensive operations are designed to achieve a relative advantage by negating an adversary’s ability to access, or exploit the space domain and are therefore essential to achieving space superiority. … Offensive operations are not limited to adversary counterspace systems and can also target the full spectrum of an adversary’s ability to exploit the space domain, which includes targets in the terrestrial and cyber domains.”
What the capstone doctrine does not do is explain the difference between “active defense” and “offense” in space — a distinction that long has been less than clear. It also does not explain exactly when offensive operations are deemed “warranted;” nor does it detail who gets to make that decision. Under previous administrations, a decision to attack adversary satellites was held strictly as a presidential prerogative.
Finally, the capstone doctrine explains that the service “competencies” require specialization by space warfighters in the “disciplines” of “Orbital Warfare, Space Electromagnetic Warfare, Space Battle Management, Space Access and Sustainment, Military Intelligence, Cyber Operations, and Engineering/Acquisitions.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
11 Aug 20. Sentinel-1C radar antenna has spread its wings for the first time. Fixed to a special device, simulating zero gravity conditions, the 12.3 metre wide and 860 kg SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) radar antenna of the Copernicus Sentinel-1C satellite has successfully spread its wings at the Airbus Integrated Technology Centre in Friedrichshafen (Germany) for the first time.
Sentinel-1C is the third of the Sentinel-1 radar satellite series and will ensure data continuity for the many services offered by the EU’s Copernicus programme. The Sentinel-1C satellite equipped with the SAR Instrument (C-band radar) will provide radar images of the entire Earth’s surface as part of the Copernicus programme funded by the European Union and the European Space Agency (ESA). Thales Alenia Space is prime contractor for Sentinel-1C and its twin Sentinel-1 D. Airbus Defence and Space is responsible for both radars.
These radar images will be used across many areas of Earth observation including monitoring Arctic sea-ice, routine sea-ice mapping, surveillance of the marine environment, monitoring land-surface for motion risks, forest mapping, water and soil management, and to support humanitarian aid and disaster monitoring.
The antenna consists of a centre panel which will be fixed to the satellite platform and two deployable antenna wings with two panels each. The unfolding test was to check the correct deployment of these two wings and to measure the planarity of the antenna as an indicator for the future SAR image quality. Next step in the acceptance test sequence of the SAR instrument (complete antenna with the antenna electronic subsystem built by Airbus Portsmouth, UK) is a functional and performance test campaign, planned to run until end of October 2020. Finally the antenna’s radio frequency characteristics will be checked before the instrument is shipped to Thales Alenia Space for platform integration. Copernicus Sentinel-1C is set for launch in 2022.
10 Aug 20. GPS III SV03 Receives Operational Acceptance. The United States Space Force (USSF) and the Space and the Missile Systems Center achieved another major Global Positioning System (GPS) milestone on July 27 when the GPS III Space Vehicle (SV) 03 received USSF’s Operational Acceptance approval. The GPS III satellites are the newest generation built by Lockheed Martin that provide precise positioning, navigation and timing information with three times better accuracy, and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capability than previous generations of GPS satellites. This marks the third GPS III satellite to receive operational acceptance in less than a year. SV03 was launched on June 30 and was the second National Security Space Launch (NSSL) mission launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. This was the first NSSL mission where a Launch Service Provider recovered a booster, with SpaceX successfully recovering the first stage and fairings as part of the launch. The GPS III SV03 mission was dedicated to Colonel Thomas G. Falzarano, 21st Space Wing commander, who passed away in May.
“We are adding GPS warfighter capability and resiliency with each new GPS III satellite. The on-boarding of GPS III SV03 enables our first use of cross link commanding capability for assured nuclear detection. With the GPS III SV03 addition to the constellation, our modernized signals capable satellites increases to 22 vehicles. This results in nearly a fully capable Military-Code constellation, which our space warfighters will operate to deliver expanded capabilities to the joint force.” said Lt. Col. Michael Schriever, 2nd Space Operations Squadron commander.
The USSF’s Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, is the center of excellence for developing, acquiring and delivering military space systems. Its portfolio includes the Global Positioning System, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space based infrared systems, and space situational awareness capabilities.
07 Aug 20. After a hard-fought competition, ULA and SpaceX to remain military’s rocket launch providers. United Launch Alliance and SpaceX have won the Space Force’s next-generation rocket contract, locking the two companies in as the Defense Department’s launch providers of choice for the foreseeable future.
ULA — a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing — was awarded $337m, while SpaceX will be getting $316m for phase two of the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program, the Pentagon announced Aug. 7. They beat out Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman.
Phase 2 of the NSSL program is the U.S. military’s vehicle for ordering launch services from fiscal year 2022 to 2027. ULA is slated to get 60 percent of the manifest, with SpaceX getting the remainder.
“We don’t think this is the last round of innovation that we’re going to see,” Will Roper, the Air Force’s acquisition executive, told reporters during an Aug. 7 roundtable. “Although we’re excited for the next five years, we’re looking ahead to ‘Phase 3’ five years from now and wondering what new leap-ahead, lower-cost technologies might be on the forefront to make assured access to space not just assured, but cheaper.”
The award pays for the first three missions in 2022, which include two ULA launches and one for SpaceX. All are classified, Roper said.
There is no ceiling on the number of launches that the Pentagon can order in Phase 2, but Roper expects about 32 missions. Funding for those missions will be distributed in future task orders.
The NSSL Phase 2 award moves the U.S. military one step closer to eliminating its dependence on the Russian RD-180 engine, which is used in ULA’s Atlas V rocket. The Defense Department has until 2022 to stop RD-180 procurement, and Roper said he was confident was on “a low risk path” to ensure it will meet that deadline.
For the Phase 2 SpaceX offered the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, which are both certified and in use. ULA proposed a new rocket, the Vulcan Centaur, which is under development and expected to make its maiden flight in 2021.
“Vulcan Centaur is the right choice for critical national security space missions and was purpose built to meet all of the requirements of our nation’s space launch needs,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman were also in the process of creating new launch systems under a 2018 agreement with the Space and Missile Systems Center. That organization will now work with those companies on how to best halt the government’s involvement in that development, Roper said.
“We will tie off the [launch service agreement] contracts as soon as we can, at a point that makes sense,” he said. “We want to make sure that work that’s in flux, that we’re able to document what the vendors have done. Where the government has rights to the data and the work, we want to make sure we retain them.”
Unless the companies protest the contract award, the next opportunity for Northrop, Blue Origin or other challengers to compete for national security launches is NSSL Phase 3, but the department’s approach and timeline for that effort is still being determined.
“If funding were available for a Phase 3 launch service agreement, there’s no prohibition on how early we could start Phase 3,” said Roper, who added that studies have shown “some strategic benefits for doing that sooner rather than later.” (Source: Defense News)
07 Aug 20. US Space Force completes upgrade to help protect GPS capabilities. The U.S. Space Force has completed upgrades to the Global Position System’s ground segment that will allow it to partially use a new military GPS signal known as M-code, the service announced Aug. 6.
While the new anti-spoofing, anti-jamming, encrypted M-code signal has been available on many GPS satellites for years, the military has not had the corresponding ground and user equipment to access and leverage it. The $6.2bn Next-Generation Operational Control System, or OCX, being built by Raytheon Technologies for that purpose is five years behind schedule and isn’t expected to be delivered until June 2021.
To provide access for war fighters in the interim, the Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin a contingency operations contract in 2016 to build an M-code upgrade to the current GPS Operational Control System. That M-Code Early Use upgrade will allow war fighters with the appropriate equipment to use some aspects of the new military signal until OCX is ready. M-Code Early Use was delivered in June 2019, entered a trial period in October and was approved for everyday use in March 2020.
The M-Code Early Use hardware and software upgrades were completed July 27, clearing the path for the system to enter the operational acceptance phase in November 2020. Installation took place at the master control station at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado and the alternate master control stations at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
The upgrades allow OCS to task, upload and monitor M-code on the GPS constellation and will support testing and fielding military ground user equipment that can receive the signal.
“Working closely with Lockheed Martin and our other mission partners — with the common national goal of providing enhanced [positioning, navigation and timing] signal security and safety always in sharp focus — means we’re able to deliver the right mission capability faster to our warfighters,” said Lt. Col. Steven Nielson, program manager of the M-Code Early Use project. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
10 Aug 20. Rohde & Schwarz presents a new Q/V band RF upconverter for testing satellite payloads. To enable continually higher data rates for end users of satellite links, satellite operators are using higher frequencies, such as the Q/V band, where larger bandwidths are available. The new R&S SZV100A RF upconverter from Rohde & Schwarz now offers a solution for testing broadband transponders in the payloads of very high throughput satellites (VHTS). With its 2 GHz modulation bandwidth, the R&S SZV100A covers the entire frequency range from 36 GHz to 56 GHz.
The Q/V band offers larger bandwidths for feeder links to satellites, making it ideal for the implementation of upcoming data links with high bit rates. This includes future communications and cellular backhaul networks that can provide end users with large volumes of data. Operators of conventional geostationary satellites as well as LEO satellites in the new space environment are discovering the advantages of these new satellite bands.
High demands are placed on microwave components in the Q/V band, which means they must undergo extensive testing during development and verification. Amplifiers, converters, receiver modules and complete satellite payloads are just a few examples of components that have to be tested in the Q/V band. Especially for satellite payloads, test equipment must meet very high requirements for signal quality. Together with the R&S SMW200A vector signal generator, the R&S SZV100A Q/V band RF upconverter provides continuous coverage of all satellite bands from VHF to V band as well as the frequency bands for 5G in the Q/V band.
The test setup consists of the R&S SMW200A vector signal generator, the R&S SMA100B RF and microwave signal generator, and the R&S SZV100A Q/V band RF upconverter. With its outstanding RF performance, the R&S SMW200A delivers the modulated broadband IF signal with bandwidths up to 2 GHz, while the R&S SMA100B provides the high-precision LO signal. The maximum output power of the R&S SZV100A is as high as +16 dBm (at 1 dB compression point).
The compact housing design, low weight and mounting points of the R&S SZV100A allow mounting as close as possible to the DUT, for example on the outside of a thermal vacuum chamber (TVAC). The distance between the IF source or LO source and the R&S SZV100A can be as much as 10 meters, allowing an optimized test setup.
The upconverter and the signal generators can be operated remotely with a PC software over a LAN connection. The R&S SZV remote control software enables simple and convenient configuration of the entire device setup.
The R&S SZV100A is ideal as a low-cost upgrade for existing test systems. Thanks to the control software, the setup consisting of the R&S SZV100A, R&S SMW200A and R&S SMA100B can be operated as a single instrument. The R&S SZV100A is now available from Rohde & Schwarz.
07 Aug 20. The US Space Force is getting an official second in command. The No. 2 official assigned to the U.S. Space Force is getting his chance to officially join the new service.
Air Force Lt. Gen. David “DT” Thompson was tapped as the Space Force’s vice chief of space operations and for promotion to the rank of general, the Pentagon announced Friday.
Thompson previously held the position of vice commander of Air Force Space Command, which was dissolved in December and redesignated as the U.S. Space Force.
Although he became a de facto deputy to Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond in recent months — with Thompson involved in standing up the new service as well as explaining its role to the public— he works for Space Force headquarters without technically being a member.
During the Air Force Association conference in February, Thompson spoke about the importance of building the new space service. He revealed that a crew assigned to the Space Force at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, had detected that Iran on Jan. 2, 2020, launched a missile inbound for Al Asad Air Force Base in Iraq. One particular crew member was tasked with relaying information on the threat to U.S. troops at Al Asad.
“If she had not detected that launch, determined where it was, where it was going and who was under threat and released warning messages that got to the 300 plus Americans at Al Asad Air Base, I’m firmly convinced we’d be talking today about dead Americans,” Thompson said, according to an Air Force release.
A graduate of the Air Force Academy and lifelong space operator, Thompson has held command positions as head of 45th Operations Group at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, from 2005 to 2007, and he led the Aerospace Data Facility at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, from 2007 to 2009. He served as director of space forces at U.S. Air Forces Central Command from 2009 to 2010, and was vice commander of the Air Force Warfare Center from 2010 to 2011.
Before becoming the vice commander of Air Force Space Command in June 2015, he held positions at U.S. Strategic Command as the deputy director of global operations from 2011 to 2014, and then the director of plans and policy. As an engineer by trade, he has worked on experimental rocket propulsion efforts and helped lead military satellite and space lift programs over the course of his career. (Source: Defense News)
06 Aug 20. GPS III Space Vehicle 04 safely arrives in Florida. The U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center successfully delivered the fourth Global Positioning System (GPS) III satellite to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, July 14. GPS III Space Vehicle (SV) 04 was safely transported from the Lockheed Martin facility in Waterton, Colorado to Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, Florida. The satellite was carried aboard a C-17 Globemaster III originating from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
The delivery of GPS III SV04 starts the clock for final testing and checkout prior to launch. The satellite will be processed at the Astrotech Space Operations facility in Florida to ensure the full functionality of the satellite, prepare the satellite for propellant loading, and encapsulate the satellite in its protective fairing. At the completion of these activities, the satellite will be horizontally integrated with the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
“The shipment of the fourth GPS III satellite was successfully conducted just two weeks after the launch of our GPS III-SV03 satellite. This operation is a remarkable achievement and testament to the hard work of the entire GPS team members from all across the country,” said Col. Edward Byrne, SMC’s Medium Earth Orbit Space Systems Division chief. “The delivery of SV04 marks the start of our third GPS III launch campaign on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and brings us another step closer in advancing the GPS constellation with more capable satellites.”
GPS III SV04 is slated to launch in September 2020. Once on-orbit, it will join the operational constellation of 31 GPS satellites, delivering enhanced resiliency, better accuracy, and advanced anti-jam capabilities. GPS delivers the gold standard in positioning, navigation, and timing services supporting vital U.S. and allied operations worldwide, and underpins critical financial institutions, transportation services, and agricultural industries.
06 Aug 20. Global Positioning System Military-Code Installs Complete at Operational Sites. The United States Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center took a major step towards Operational Acceptance of the long awaited Global Positioning System (GPS) Military-Code (M-Code) with the completion of the major M-Code Early Use (MCEU) hardware and software upgrade to the GPS Operational Control System (OCS) on July 27.
The encrypted M-Code signal enhances anti-jamming and anti-spoofing capabilities for the warfighter. M-Code signals are currently available on all 22 GPS Block IIR-M, IIF and III space vehicles currently on orbit. The installs were completed at the Master Control Station at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado and Alternate Master Control Stations at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
The MCEU upgrade allows the OCS Architecture Evolution Plan to task, upload and monitor M-Code within the GPS constellation, as well as support testing and fielding of modernized user equipment. MCEU will be in a trial period prior to Operational Acceptance in November 2020. Once Operational Acceptance is granted, upcoming Military Ground User Equipment (MGUE) will be able to leverage the M-Code signal-in-space to provide more secure position, navigation and timing (PNT) to warfighters.
“Working closely with Lockheed Martin and our other mission partners – with the common national goal of providing enhanced PNT signal security and safety always in sharp focus – means we’re able to deliver the right mission capability faster to our warfighters,” said Lt. Col. Steven A. Nielson, program manager of the MCEU project.
MCEU serves as a gap filler for M-Code operations prior to the entire GPS constellation’s operational transition to the Next Generation Operational Control System Block 1, which is now in development.
A key to enabling M-Code is a new software-defined receiver currently being installed at all six Space Force Monitoring Sites. The M-Code Monitor Station Technology Improvement and Capability receiver, as it is called, uses a commercial, off-the-shelf hardware to cost effectively receive and process M-Code signals, enabling OCS operators to monitor the M-Code signals. GPS continues to rapidly evolve and adapt to the ever-changing global environment and PNT user needs. (Source: US DoD)
06 Aug 20. SpaceX Starlink + BlackSky Smallsats Launch Is Successful. First Stage Landing Right On Target. On Friday, August 7 at 1:12 a.m. EDT, 5:12 UTC, SpaceX launched its tenth Starlink mission, which included 57 Starlink satellites and 2 satellites from BlackSky, a Spaceflight customer. Falcon 9’s first stage previously supported Crew Dragon’s first demonstration mission to the International Space Station, launch of the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, and the fourth and seventh Starlink missions.
Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage landed on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
The BlackSky Global spacecraft deployed sequentially beginning 1 hour and 1 minute after liftoff, and the Starlink satellites deployed approximately 1 hour and 33 minutes after liftoff.
All Starlink satellites on this flight are equipped with a deployable visor to block sunlight from hitting the brightest spots of the spacecraft – a measure SpaceX has taken as part of our work with leading astronomical groups to mitigate satellite reflectivity.
Pre-Launch Information Posting
SpaceX is targeting Friday, August 7, at 1:12 a.m., EDT, 5:12 UTC, for the launch of the company’s tenth Starlink mission that will include 57 Starlink satellites and 2 satellites from BlackSky, a Spaceflight customer.
Falcon 9’s first stage previously supported Crew Dragon’s first demonstration mission to the International Space Station, launch of the RADARSAT Constellation Mission and the fourth and seventh Starlink missions. Following stage separation, SpaceX will land Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
The BlackSky Global spacecraft will deploy sequentially starting 1 hour and 1 minute after liftoff and the Starlink satellites will deploy approximately 1 hour and 33 minutes after liftoff. Starlink satellites will be deployed in a circular orbit, as was done on the first through fourth Starlink missions. Additionally, all Starlink satellites on this flight are equipped with a deployable visor to block sunlight from hitting the brightest spots of the spacecraft – a measure SpaceX has taken as part of our work with leading astronomical groups to mitigate satellite reflectivity. (Source: Satnews)
06 Aug 20. Integrasys Has Their Beam Budget Tool Ready for LEO + Flat Panel Antennas. The new goal of the market is to seek solutions to achieve the effective use of spectrum and provide higher bandwidth for matching the demand with reliable network technology. Flat panel antennas are designed to fit in more types of platforms with its low profile and its flat surface, installations can become easier and faster.
The greatest advantage of flat panel antennas is the ability to create multi-beams, which are able to point different constellations — and this is where LEO satellites come on stage — the complexity of this communication system rests in their orbital movements, which enables them to reduce the latency between devices. This make flat panel antennas ideal to ensure this connection occurs, as these antennas can simultaneously point to multiple satellites simultaneously. For instance, the connected car is an application that will drive the flat panel antennas to much vaulted position within the industry.
Regarding the development experienced by the industry of these technologies, the calculation of Link Budget becomes more difficult with LEO satellites and, until recently, it was impossible to find tools that were able to control these new antennas and these satellite networks.
Integrasys developed Beam Budget, the unique and only technology solution that enables users to accurately calculate Link Budgets that support LEO constellations and flat panel antennas. Beam Budget supports any frequency band, including Q- and V-band, whose higher frequencies are more affected by atmospheric events.
Thanks to Beam Budget, smallsat developers can better design, easier, and more effective networks for their constellations — service providers can compare constellations and services before they select the most appropriate partner. (Source: Satnews)
04 Aug 20. US Space Force Selects General Atomics For EO/IR EWS Satellite Program. General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) has been selected for the United States Space Force Electro-Optical Infrared (EO/IR) Weather System (EWS) satellite program under the Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC).
GA-EMS will design and manufacture a prototype spacecraft, integrate the EWS payload and provide on-orbit mission control services to support the collection of theater weather imagery and cloud characterization data for worldwide military operational use.
For EWS, GA-EMS is teaming with EOVista, LLC, Atmospheric and Environmental Research Inc. (AER) and Braxton Technologies, LLC. EOVista provides the EO/IR payload, AER Inc performs weather product generation, and Braxton Technologies, LLC provides mission Enterprise Ground Station (EGS) command and control, and operations support.
The award is contracted through the Space Enterprise Consortium, an Other Transaction Authority (OTA) contract vehicle managed by Advanced Technology Incorporated (ATI).
About SMC EO/IR-EWS Program
The Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) Weather System (EWS) will continue the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program’s (DMSP) mission to provide global terrestrial cloud forecasting and theater weather imagery data to warfighters, for timely mission operations planning and execution.
“In addition to our ongoing Orbital Test Bed programs like the Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols (MAIA) for NASA and Argos 4 for the United States Air Force, GA-EMS is pleased to support critical space missions,” said Scott Forney, President of GA-EMS. “With EWS we will continue to leverage our expertise in developing scalable architectures and volume-efficient packaging, as well as our expanding satellite manufacturing capabilities to rapidly design and deliver an EO/IR satellite solution to meet the proposed EWS launch date in 2022. EWS will demonstrate new technologies and lead to optimized future capabilities for effective weather prediction,” added Nick Bucci, VP of Missile Defense and Space Systems at GA-EMS. “Combining GA-EMS’ proven expertise in satellite design and manufacturing will lead to production of a cost-effective future high performance weather satellite constellation.” (Source: Satnews)
03 Aug 20. Arianespace Announces New Launch Date for VA253. The progress of operations currently underway at the Final Assembly Building has enabled August 14 to be envisioned as the launch date for Ariane Flight 253 (VA253), with the possibility of an optimization in the process for the mission to be performed one day earlier. Arianespace is applying its standard procedures to maintain the highest level of reliability for the benefit of its customers. The Ariane 5 launch vehicle and its three spacecraft payloads remain in stable and safe conditions.
Flight VA253: the sequence for success
Ariane 5 will deliver a total payload lift performance of approximately 10,468 kg. on the mission to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), which is designated Flight VA253. This total factors in the three passengers, plus the workhorse vehicle’s multi-payload deployment system and integration hardware.
G-30 and MEV-2 — both produced by Northrop Grumman to serve the operational needs of Intelsat — are stacked together in the upper position of Ariane 5’s payload configuration. G-30 will be deployed first during the 47-minute flight sequence, followed by MEV-2.
To be released last as the mission’s lower passenger, BSAT-4b is being launched by Arianespace as part of a turnkey contract between the Japanese operator B-SAT and the satellite manufacturer, Maxar.
Galaxy 30 (G-30) will be the first replacement satellite in Intelsat’s North American Galaxy fleet refresh. It will provide high-performance broadcast distribution capabilities, including Ultra-High Definition (UHD) and over-the-top (OTT) streaming media, while also supporting broadband, mobility and enterprise network solutions.
The launch of G-30 demonstrates Intelsat’s long-term commitment to its media customers and its media distribution neighborhoods, which have an unmatched penetration of cable headends in the United States.
Galaxy 30 will be the 62nd satellite launched by Arianespace for Intelsat.
Galaxy 30 will be the 29th Northrop Grumman satellite launched by Arianespace.
MEV-2 is supplied by Northrop Grumman for the company’s wholly owned subsidiary, SpaceLogistics LLC. Intelsat 10-02 will be the first customer for the MEV-2. Once docked, it will control the satellite’s orbit using its own thrusters. After its mission for IS- 10-02, MEV-2 will undock and be available for another customer’s vehicle.
The first MEV, MEV-1, was launched in October 2019. It docked with Intelsat-901 in February 2020.
After MEV-2, Northrop Grumman and SpaceLogistics are developing a new generation of satellite servicing vehicles that could attach propulsion jetpacks to multiple spacecraft in a single mission.
MEV-2 will be the first satellite servicing vehicle launched by Arianespace.
MEV-2 will be the 30th Northrop Grumman satellite launched by Arianespace.
The BSAT-4b satellite, designed and built for Broadcasting Satellite System Corporation (B-SAT) – a leading broadcasting satellite operator in Japan – will be used for Direct-to-Home (DTH) television service above the Japan archipelago.
BSAT-4b satellite will serve as a backup system to BSAT-4a launched in September 2017. It will be the 10th Arianespace launch for B-SAT, and the satellite will provide Direct-To-Home (DTH) television to ensure exceptional 4K/8K ultra-high definition (UHD) video distribution across the Japan archipelago – like its BSAT-4a twin. BSAT- 4b is designed to provide service for 15 years or longer.
B-SAT is a Japanese company created in April 1993 to manage satellite procurement, control and management of broadcast satellites, supply basic broadcasting stations and all related operations and businesses.
Arianespace has launched all B-SAT satellites since the creation of this Japanese operator, reflecting the launch services company’s exceptionally strong position in this market. This mission also underlines the exceptional quality of the partnership between Arianespace, Maxar (the satellite manufacturer) and the Japanese operator B-SAT.
The Arianespace market share of launch services for geostationary orbit satellites in Japan is 74% since Japan’s first commercial satellite launch JCSAT-1 on Ariane in 1989. (Source: Satnews)
02 Aug 20. Eutelsat + Intelsat Agree On Operations At The 48° E Orbital Slot. Eutelsat and Intelsat have signed a long-term agreement to jointly operate at the 48 degrees East orbital slot.
Both operators have certain orbital rights to that position. Eutelsat has already built its ‘Quantum’ satellite, which will be positioned at the location by the end of this year.
The 48 degrees East location is considered ideal for covering the MENA region and also providing secure communications for military and governmental customers active in the area.
Under the agreement, the capacity on Eutelsat Quantum will be distributed by Eutelsat and its subsidiary, Eutelsat Americas Corp, and Intelsat and its subsidiary, Intelsat General Communications LLC (IGC), thereby maximizing the commercial potential of the satellite and creating conditions for the fastest possible ramp-up of the satellite.
A joint-statement says that ‘Quantum’ is a full expansion satellite providing premium capacity with unprecedented flexibility features. Its ground-breaking software-based design enables users to actively define and shape performance and reach to meet their specific requirements. The 48° East position, with its extensive coverage, notably of the MENA region, is ideally placed to address, among others, the unique needs of government users.
IGC Regional VP Rick Henry further commented, “Our collaboration with Eutelsat brings together the best minds in the industry to quickly meet the unique needs of our government customers through an innovative operating model and satellite deployment. This type of industry collaboration is truly a ‘win-win’ for everyone, and we look forward to a productive, long-term partnership with Eutelsat at 48° East.”
David Bair, CEO/President of Eutelsat America Corp, added, “We are delighted to partner with Intelsat to optimise the commercial potential of the assets represented by the 48° East position and the innovative features of Eutelsat Quantum. This ground-breaking satellite has already attracted significant interest from potential Government customers, and we are also excited to team with industry leading systems integrators to provide this unique capability as part of a high value solution.”
Eutelsat will unveil its latest financial results on July 31, where it is likely that more detail will emerge. (Source: Satnews)
02 Aug 20. China’s BeiDou Satellite Navigation System Is Live. China has formally launched their BeiDou navigation satellite system which is planned to to rival America’s GPS constellation and and provide independent navigation structure for that nation’s military.
Chinese President Xi Jinping attended a ceremony to mark the launch of full global services of the BeiDou-3, official media reported.
The launch marks the completion of China’s domestically developed BeiDou network, one of the four global navigation networks alongside the the GPS (Global Positioning System) of the United States, Russia’s GLONASS and the European Union’s Galileo.
India, as well, is building their own navigational system called the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), with an operational name of NAVIC.
Some of the countries such as Pakistan that are closely aligned with China, are also using the BDS. China is also promoting its use in the countries that have signed-up for the mega Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
“The main advantage of having your own system is the security of access, in the sense that you are not relying on another country to provide it. The US could deny users access over certain areas, for example, in times of conflict,” said Alexandra Stickings from the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies. “It could also serve as a back-up if GPS were to go down entirely.”
The chief designer of the BDS, Yang Changfeng, said BeiDou offers accurate positioning, navigation and timing, as well as short messaging communication. The services are used in various fields, including transportation, agriculture, fishing, and disaster relief.
Named after the Chinese word for the Big Dipper or Plough constellation, China’s BeiDou navigation project was launched in the early 1990s. The system then became operational within China in 2000 and in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region in 2012.
The Chinese, state-run CGTN TV reported that, with the upgrade of BDS’ third-generation satellites, the constellation that consists of 35 satellites is ready to provide global coverage. (Source: Satnews)
At Viasat, we’re driven to connect every warfighter, platform, and node on the battlefield. As a global communications company, we power millions of fast, resilient connections for military forces around the world – connections that have the capacity to revolutionize the mission – in the air, on the ground, and at sea. Our customers depend on us for connectivity that brings greater operational capabilities, whether we’re securing the U.S. Government’s networks, delivering satellite and wireless communications to the remote edges of the battlefield, or providing senior leaders with the ability to perform mission-critical communications while in flight. We’re a team of fearless innovators, driven to redefine what’s possible. And we’re not done – we’re just beginning.