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03 Sep 20. exactEarth Announces Successful Launch of the ESAIL Microsatellite. exactEarth Ltd. (TSX: XCT) (“exactEarth” or the “Company”), a leading provider of Satellite-AIS data services, announces the successful launch of the ESAIL microsatellite. Developed under ESA’s ARTES Partnership Project for global ship tracking, the ESAIL satellite was launched September 3rd onboard the Arianespace Vega (VV16) flight, from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
The satellite will undergo commissioning testing over the next few months and then will be brought into service to provide advanced high-performance vessel detection and tracking capability as part of exactEarth’s industry-leading global constellation of more than 70 high performance automatic identification system (AIS) satellites providing real time monitoring of the global shipping fleet.
VV16 is Arianespace’s first Vega Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) rideshare flight that injected a total of 53 satellites into orbit. At approximately 52 minutes after launch, ESAIL was released into a sun-synchronous orbit with Local Time at Descending Node (LTDN) of 10:30 am at an altitude of 515 km.
ESAIL is a high-performance microsatellite, built by LuxSpace with the support of the Luxembourg Space Agency under an ESA Partnership Project with exactEarth and the support of the Canadian Space Agency. It will track ships worldwide by detecting messages that ships radio-broadcast via AIS. As part of exactEarth’s Satellite-AIS constellation, ESAIL will provide AIS data for the monitoring of maritime traffic on a global basis. It will improve fishery monitoring, fleet management, environmental protection, and security monitoring – making the seas safer.
The first contact with the ESAIL satellite was successfully made by the ESAIL project team within hours after launch. The project team, consisting of team members from exactEarth (mission operator and owner), LuxSpace (prime contractor) and the European Space Agency (project sponsor) have gained control of the satellite, which is in good health. In the coming days and weeks, the satellite will undergo commissioning and in-orbit testing prior to being put into service as part of exactEarth’s Satellite-AIS constellation. The ESAIL satellite is designed for a mission life of approximately four years.
“We are very excited to add this advanced technology satellite to the exactEarth constellation,” said Peter Mabson exactEarth CEO. “ESAIL incorporates advanced antenna and receiver designs which, together with exactEarth’s advanced decollision processing technology is expected to set a new standard for Satellite-AIS vessel detection. I would like to thank ESA, the CSA and the Luxspace-led European satellite manufacturing team for helping to achieve this important milestone. Onwards and upwards!”
About exactEarth Ltd.
exactEarth is a leading provider of global maritime vessel data for ship tracking and maritime situational awareness solutions. Since its formation in 2009, exactEarth has pioneered a powerful new method of maritime surveillance called Satellite AIS and has delivered to its clients a view of maritime behaviours across all regions of the world’s oceans unrestricted by terrestrial limitations. exactEarth’s second-generation constellation, exactViewTM RT, securely relays satellite-detected AIS vessel signals from any location on the earth’s surface to the ground in seconds – thus enabling global real-time vessel tracking. This unique capability consists of 58 advanced satellite payloads designed and built by L3Harris Technologies, Inc. under agreement with exactEarth and that are hosted onboard the Iridium NEXT constellation of satellites. www.exactearth.com (Source: PR Newswire)
02 Sep 20. Blue Canyon Technologies 6U Spacecraft Deploys as Part of the Deformable Mirror Demonstration (DeMi) Mission. Rapidly growing spacecraft manufacturer and space mission services provider Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) announced that its 6U spacecraft built for a DARPA-sponsored project managed by Aurora Flight Sciences with a payload developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was successfully deployed by NanoRacks from the International Space Station in mid-July. The Deformable Mirror Demonstration Mission (DeMi) is a technology demonstration using a Boston Micromachines microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) deformable mirror (DM).
The objective of DeMi is to demonstrate using MEMS deformable mirror technology for adaptive optics in space. The MEMS DMs can be used for a range of in-space applications, including optical communication and wide-field scanning telescopes.
Aurora Flight Sciences awarded the contract to BCT to build and test the new 6U-class CubeSat bus used for the DeMi mission. BCT’s 6U spacecraft is a high-performance CubeSat that includes an ultra-precise attitude control system that allows for accurate knowledge and fine-pointing of the satellite payload. The highly integrated design also maximizes payload volume.
While other single micro-mirror optical MEMS components have been used in the past, MEMS DMs have a higher actuator density and lower size and weight compared to other designs, which makes them more resilient, allows for easier accommodation in spacecraft, and can result in better image quality.
“Aurora Flight Sciences and MIT are utilizing new-space to bring new technologies to the larger space community and Blue Canyon is proud to have provided the bus for the DeMi mission,” said Steve Stem, Spacecraft Systems Engineer for Blue Canyon Technologies.
“Working with BCT to provide the DeMi spacecraft bus allowed MIT to focus on the design and implementation of the science payload,” said Rachel Morgan, one of the mission’s lead graduate research assistants. “The DeMi mission is an exciting example of using CubeSats to demonstrate new technologies for future space telescopes, and the Aurora/MIT team is very excited to start getting science results from the payload in space,” said Dr. Ewan Douglas, a research affiliate of MIT AeroAstro and Assistant Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona.
Specifically, the DeMi Mission will help determine the functionality of MEMS DMs on-orbit, and to characterize their behavior in microgravity. MEMS DMs are already commonly used in ground-based telescope adaptive optics systems.
The DM devices will need to withstand radiation effects, spacecraft charging, long-term temperature cycling, and extended operation in vacuum, many of which are difficult to replicate in a lab environment. This low-earth orbit (LEO) mission will validate the technology, as well as provide risk reduction for development of flight software, wavefront sensing and control algorithms, electronics hardware, and mechanical packaging needed to operate a MEMS DM in space. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
01 Sep 20. McQ Inc. Selected by AFWERX to Provide a Global Satellite Base Defense Solution to the Air Force. McQ Inc. celebrates 35 years of pushing sensor technology to support National Security.
AFWERX, the innovation program of the United States Air Force initiated a Base of the Future Challenge to seek new technologies that greatly enhance the security and defense of Air Force Bases. AFWERX received over 1,500 submissions and accepted 374 proposals for the Challenge. McQ was down-selected in an initial group of 92 proposals followed by a virtual presentation by McQ of our “Global Multi Domain Security and Base Defense” solution. Based on the presentation, McQ was selected to receive direct-to-contract authorization under the RAPIDx Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) AFWERX program.
With the Base of the Future initiative, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) has an opportunity to start from the ground up and create an installation that will become a universal symbol of innovation and excellence. For this challenge initiative, AFWERX was seeking solutions that will increase the effectiveness of base security and defense. As the Air Force builds new and restores existing installations, they have the opportunity to examine and improve the existing security and defense systems that protect the people and critical resources they house. The focus areas of this challenge include Air Force bases with perimeters that require safeguarding from threats such as unauthorized or attempted illegal entry, active shooters, explosives, cyber risks and many other potential threats. AFWERX requested proposals to restore and rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base into the “Base of the Future” as a model for future base upgrades.
McQ has developed a “Global Situation Awareness System” that enables deploying our advanced sensors anywhere in the world and immediately connecting the information to distributed users via Iridium’s secure satellite network. This system architecture enables multi source fusion, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning via a secure Cloud Based system approach. This eliminates terrestrial infrastructure and provides globally distributed information for “Multi Domain Operations.” McQ’s innovative solution uses our new surveillance products, McQ RANGER® and McQ OWL™. These products and our other McQ technologies are currently providing security at many domestic and foreign Air Force bases with real-time reporting of human activity for Base Security and remote area Situation Awareness missions. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
01 Sep 20. SDA Awards Contracts to Enable Data Transfer From Space. The Space Development Agency announced yesterday the award of two contracts for what’s known as the first generation of the transport layer, the acting deputy undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, and director of defense research and engineering for modernization said.
These awards represent one of the first major steps toward developing the National Defense Space Architecture’s inaugural tranche, called Tranche 0, he said.
Tranche 0 will be designed to enable the Joint All-Domain Command and Control to link tactical data transfer from space to warfighting on the ground, at sea or in the air.
Mark Lewis spoke yesterday at a Pentagon media roundtable. He was joined by Dr. Derek Tournear, director of the SDA.
Lewis said these awards “will initiate the design, development and launch of constellations composed of tens of satellites with optical inter-satellite links capable of sending and receiving wideband data to and from other space vehicles and ground stations.”
“The capability demonstrated in the transport layer Tranche 0 will provide U.S. warfighters with periodic regional access to low-latency data connectivity via space-based extensions of existing tactical data links,” he continued.
York Space Systems, Denver, Colorado, was awarded a $94,036,666 firm-fixed-price contract and Lockheed Martin Corp., Littleton, Colorado, was awarded a $187,542,461 firm-fixed-price contract. Both awards are for SDA’s transport layer Tranche 0, Lewis noted. The work to be performed under this contract will include on-time delivery of space vehicles and paths to optical inter-satellite link interoperability.
Both contract awardees’ teams also include many partner organizations, both large and small, with technical expertise, Lewis mentioned. “Frankly, we’re confident that through the competition that we’ve run, there’s been a full and open competition. We’re confident that we’ve found the best solution to deliver.”
Tournear said SDA’s industry day was set for April 2. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SDA switched it to a virtual event so that the search for the right industrial partners could continue.
The solicitation was released May 1 and now the contracts have been awarded on schedule, he added.
By the end of fiscal year 2022, the Defense Department “will be launching 20 satellites from two different performers to make up the nucleus of our Tranche 0 transport,” Tournear said. (Source: US DoD)
01 Sep 20. Lockheed Martin to Build 10 Small Satellite Mesh Network in Two Years. Space Development Agency Transport Layer will use commercial approaches with rapid development and launch.
The Space Development Agency (SDA) awarded a Tranche 0 contract of the Space Transport Layer to Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) to demonstrate a mesh network of 10 small satellites that links terrestrial warfighting domains to space sensors – all launching in just two years.
The $187.5m contract for Transport Layer’s Tranche 0 is an initial test and demonstration phase, with two prime contractors building a total of 20 satellites. The first step toward building an interoperable, connected secure mesh network, it will help enable Joint All-Domain Operations, allowing warfighters to stay ahead of emerging threats. By linking nodes together, seamless connectivity is created between all domains, much like today’s smartphones.
“We see a world across all warfighting domains where fourth and fifth-generation fighters and tactical forces on the ground can connect seamlessly with holistic situational awareness,” said Kay Sears, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Military Space. “Interoperability and battlespace connectivity are critical to staying ahead of our adversaries.”
The 10 satellites, operating in Low Earth Orbit, will provide secure high-bandwidth, low-latency data links. Additionally, new Link 16 network connectivity will be introduced to space. This capabilitiy will connect to systems that include fighter aircraft like F-16, F-22, and F-35, missile defense networks like PAC-3 and THAAD, weapons systems, and Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) networks, and will provide sensor-to-shooter targeting and situational awareness for tactical land and maritime warfighters.
Changing the Dynamics of Warfighting
This beyond-line-of-site tracking, targeting and communications will dramatically extend U.S. warfighting options and allows additional coalition and allied partners to eventually bring their capabilities into the network. Interoperability extends into space with prospective data connections to commercial satellite communications (SATCOM) and other military protected satcom systems, which will require close partnership with multiple companies across industry.
How Software Adds Flexibility to Missions
Each Transport Layer satellite will be fully-software defined, using SmartSat™, Lockheed Martin’s software-defined platform that makes it easier to dynamically add and quickly change missions in orbit through simple app uploads. The satellites will also be fully cyber-hardened from day one using Lockheed Martin’s Cyber Resiliency Level® model to identify cyber strengths and weaknesses so we can address those early in the design process.
The Transport Layer contributes to resilience in space communications. Mission resilience comes from being able to form a seamless network of networks, with network nodes spanning multiple domains and services provided via multiple tactical data links, making it much harder for an adversary to disrupt because of network diversity and node distribution.
01 Sep 20. Kleos Space Appoints SYPAQ as Exclusive Australia – New Zealand Agent. Kleos Space S.A. (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data provider, advises that it has appointed Australian based SYPAQ Systems Pty Ltd as its Exclusive Territory Agent for Australia and New Zealand.
Pete Round, Kleos Chairman & Director for Global Business Development said “The Kleos business model is to sell our data products through integrators (those that add the data to other data sets before selling a derived product),channel partners (those with the technical capabilities to add value to the data product and support the aftersales appropriately) and agents where there is a need for additional support requiring exclusivity in a region. SYPAQ offers us access to end user requirements, existing programmes and existing budgets enabling Kleos to engage with a far wider customer community more quicker than if Kleos was to work directly with end users as well as being able to provide pre and post sales support to the region.”
SYPAQ will exclusively market, sell and support Kleos data products on behalf of the company into new and existing programmes and customers, and provide direct local support to Kleos’ regional government and industry customers.
Kleos data will enhance support to ANZ Defence and Border Services, providing additional resources to monitor suspect and illegal activities at sea, including smuggling, illegal migration, fishing, whaling and vessels in distress.
Acting as Exclusive Territory Agents, SYPAQ will, for a period of two years, provide direct tactical and operational support to Kleos’ customers in Australia and New Zealand. SYPAQ will be the primary point of contact for both sales and support in the region. Kleos is of the view that by appointing SYPAQ as Exclusive ANZ Agents, considerable operational cost benefits will be achieved against establishing a regional Kleos operations office.
SYPAQ was established in 1992 and provides advanced systems integration, management and technology consulting, and software application development and support services across a broad range of technologies and sectors including Defence and Aerospace, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), State and Federal Government and Private Enterprise.
The orbits of Kleos’ first two clusters provide strategic coverage of the South Pacific Ocean between Australia and New Zealand and the Indian Ocean covering the West Coast of Australia.
Kleos’ satellites will detect and geolocate maritime radio frequency transmissions to provide global activity-based intelligence, enhancing the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities of governments and commercial entities when Automatic Identification System (AIS) is defeated, imagery unclear or targets out of patrol range.
About Kleos Space S.A. – – www.kleos.space.
Kleos Space S.A. is a space enabled, activity-based intelligence, data as a service company based in Luxembourg. Kleos Space aims to guard borders, protect assets and save lives by delivering global activity-based intelligence and geolocation as a service. The first Kleos Space satellite system, known as Kleos Scouting Mission (KSM), will deliver commercially available data and perform as a technology demonstration. KSM will be the keystone for a later global high capacity constellation. The Scouting Mission will deliver targeted daily services with the full constellation delivering near-realtime global observation.
About SYPAQ – www.sypaq.com.au.
SYPAQ is an innovative engineering and systems integration company, committed to creating a world that works.
Since 1992, SYPAQ has been providing advanced systems integration, management and technology consulting, and software application development and support services across a broad range of technologies in several industry sectors including Defence and Aerospace, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), State and Federal Government and Private Enterprise.
When combined with a vast array of products and solutions ranging from technologies covering C4ISREW, Security, Simulation, Data Integration, ERP/xRM, and Legacy System Modernisation, SYPAQ delivers its customers with end-to-end integrated and supported solutions.
01 Sep 20. US Army to get two new ground station prototypes in 2022. Along with the U.S. Army’s Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities office, the Defense Innovation Unit has tapped Northrop Grumman to build two new prototype ground stations that will help the Army use satellite imagery for deep sensing.
The two prototypes will demonstrate some of the capabilities the Army wants to deliver with the Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node (TITAN), a new scalable, portable ground station being developed to help narrow the sensor to shooter timeline. With TITAN, the Army wants a system that can bring down data from space-based sensors, fuse it with sensor data from other domains, apply artificial intelligence to create targeting data that can be delivered to the appropriate shooter.
“Our ground station prototypes will integrate existing software and hardware capabilities to showcase a unique ability to provide access to multi-domain actionable intelligence from commercial and military space systems,” said Troy Brashear, Northrop Grumman’s vice president of integrated national systems, in a statement.
The Army expects TITAN to reduce the sensor to shooter timeline and provide new deep-sensing that will maximize the effectiveness of Long Range Precision Fires.
The Army was able to test out this concept in March during a live-fire exercise in Germany, where a TITAN surrogate ground station was used to deliver sensor data collected by satellites to shooters for deep targeting. In a recent interview with C4ISRNET, Willie Nelson, the director of the Army’s Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing (APNT) Cross-Functional Team, declined to characterize how fast that data could be transferred from space to the shooter, he was emphatic that progress was being made.
“We’re shaving off what used to be days, which used to be morning and afternoon types of data, from hours down to minutes,” said Nelson.
According to a March solicitation, the Pentagon expects delivery of the two prototypes in January 2022. They will then be used in a series of demonstrations exercised in 2022 and 2023. (Source: Defense News)
01 Sep. 20. Space Development Agency orders its first satellites. The satellites will comprise the first iteration of the Space Development Agency’s transport layer, an on orbit mesh network that will help connect sensors to shooters. (DARPA). The Space Development Agency has selected Lockheed Martin and York Space Systems to build the satellites for the first tranche of its transport layer ? an on-orbit mesh network that is key to the Pentagon’s plans to connect on orbit sensors with terrestrial shooters ? the agency announced Aug. 31.
Each company will build 10 satellites for SDA, though at vastly different prices. While York Space Systems will receive $94m to build its 10 satellites, Lockheed Martin will receive $188m for the same number. According to SDA Director Derek Tournear, that difference reflects the agency’s firm-fixed-price contract approach to this solicitation, where they asked companies to give them a price point to meet SDA’s detailed specifications.
“We have two providers roughly providing the same thing at different prices. How does that work? It works simply as we put out a solicitation that gave requirements and gave a schedule, and we asked for firm-fixed-price bids based on those requirements and schedule,” explained Tournear in a media call following the announcement. “We had several providers that bid that came back with a range of different technical solutions and a range of prices.
“We awarded them based completely on the technical merit and what we thought was their ability to be able to make schedule and provide a solution, and then price was factored into that,” he added. “That’s what led York and Lockheed Martin to come out on top.”
The satellites will comprise Tranche 0 of the agency’s planned transport layer, a constellation of satellites that can transfer data globally through optical intersatellite links. Tournear has previously noted the space-based mesh network will form the space component to the Defense Department’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control enterprise, or JADC2.
“The transport layer, which is what the draft [request for proposals] and the industry day was talking about today, is going to be the unifying effort across the department. That is going to be what we use for low-latency [communications] to be able to pull these networks together, and that, in essence, is going to be the main unifying truss for the JADC2 and that effort moving forward. That is going to be the space network that is utilized for that,” Tournear explained in April.
Six of the 20 satellites will have Link-16 transmitters, allowing them to connect to warfighters through the military’s tactical network.
The contracts include on-time delivery of space vehicles and paths to optical intersatellite link interoperability. Work is expected to kick off within 30 days, said Tournear.
While Tranche 0 will be made up of just 20 satellites in low Earth orbit, SDA plans to add more satellites every two years as part of a spiral development approach. The transport layer will serve as the base for the new multi-layered National Defense Space Architecture, which will be made up of hundreds of interconnected satellites serving a number of missions — including tracking hypersonic weapons and providing beyond-line-of-sight targeting–primarily from low Earth orbit.
SDA plans to launch Tranche 0 into orbit in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022.
“We’re looking about this time in exactly two years, we will be launching 20 satellites from two different performers to make up the nucleus of our Tranche 0 transport layer,” said Tournear.
According to the May 1 contract solicitation, the agency has six goals for its Tranche 0 transport layer:
* Demonstrate low-latency data transport to the war fighter over the optical cross link mesh network.
* Demonstrate the ability to deliver data from an external, space-based sensor to the war fighter via the transport layer.
* Demonstrate a limited battle management C3 functionality.
* Transfer Integrated Broadcast System data across the mesh network to the war fighter.
* Store, relay and transmit Link 16 data over the network in near real time.
* Operate a common timing reference independent of GPS.
(Source: C4ISR & Networks)
31 Aug 20. Satellite Communications Phased Array Prototype Successfully Completes Transmit Test. Multi-Band, Multi-Mission antenna demonstrates new future for satellite communications.
Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and Ball Aerospace successfully completed a phased array transmit test for a Multi-Band, Multi-Mission (MBMM) antenna. MBMM helps enable multiple satellites to simultaneously connect with a single-phased array antenna system using multiple frequencies. It increases throughput, while also shrinking the antenna’s footprint. This marks a technology milestone for the United States Space Force’s MBMM program and moves the team one step closer to a full end-to-end satellite communication demonstration later this summer. This transmit test follows a similar successful receive test, which occurred in February.
The prototype antenna, awarded by the Defense Innovation Unit in April 2019, features proven technologies at high maturity levels like Lockheed Martin’s Horizon™ advanced satellite scheduler, Ball Aerospace’s modular subarray and panel design, and Kratos RT Logic advanced digital signal processing. Additionally, the prototype uses a ‘building block’ approach that can easily scale as the number of satellites increases or as the communication needs evolve.
“We are excited to partner with the Space Force on this phased array technology demonstration. This is a collaborative team with proven leadership in fielding large-scale L- and S-band communication phased arrays,” said Maria Demaree, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Mission Solutions. “Our experience integrating antennas into C2 systems is unparalled.”
The total number of commercial and military satellites in orbit is projected to increase at least four-fold in the next decade, with a projected tenfold increase in capacity needed within the Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN). That growth necessitates new technologies like phased arrays which can connect to multiple space vehicles simultaneously, unlike traditional parabolic antennas. Phased array antennas also avoid significant mechanical maintenance costs when compared to parabolic dishes.
“Ball Aerospace has targeted investment in the core phased array technologies required to allow MBMM to address the Space Force’s mission needs while providing an affordable full system solution,” said Jake Sauer, vice president and general manager, Tactical Solutions, Ball Aerospace. “With the successful completion of the transmit test, we are looking forward to the full end-to-end mission demonstration of the phased array capability.”
The MBMM prototype phased array is part of a broad initiative to modernize the existing AFSCN system and bring new technology faster to warfighters. MBMM increases AFSCN capacity and throughput while improving resiliency for ground infrastructure and satellite systems.
24 Aug 20. AAC Clyde Space, Saab and ORBCOMM Developing NexGen Maritime Comms Smallsat. AAC Clyde Space along with ORBCOMM Inc. and Saab will be collaborating on the development of a next generation VDES (VHF Data Exchange System) satellite, the first of an intended, cutting-edge LEO satellite to, as the company stated, “revolutionize maritime communications.”
VDES (info video at this direct link…) has the potential to the transform the international maritime sector and improve the safety of sea fairing vessels, from the broadcast of maritime safety information to route exchange. It supports direct ship-to-ship and ship-to-coast communication, but its key characteristic is that it supports two-way communications, this means that vessels can have two-way communications globally.
Additionally, when compared to other global comms systems available already, VDES is standardized and intended for every ships bridge so there would potentially be no need for new custom hardware onboard the ship, apart from the mandatory equipment.
Many small vessels currently use satellite AIS, automatic identification system, but with up to 32 times more bandwidth than current AIS services, VDES can be integrated with e-navigation systems, providing savings in fuel and emissions of up to 25 percent, while aiding maritime navigation and safety. The higher rate communications and flexibility of the service would be able to support a variety of services from vessel traffic services to search and rescue.
The space-based maritime communication infrastructure will increase VDES range from the shoreline to anywhere in the ocean, converting what is currently a predominantly coastal system into a global maritime system.
The satellite will carry a VDES payload from Saab for two-way communication between satellite and ground. ORBCOMM will integrate the data in its distribution centre for maritime communications.
The EPIC 3U demonstration satellite will be assembled at AAC Clyde Space’s new integration facility in Uppsala, Sweden. After demonstrating its VDES capabilities, the EPIC 3U satellite will also deliver AIS data to ORBCOMM, which will then be distributed to its government and commercial customers for ship tracking and other maritime navigational and safety efforts.
AAC Clyde Space, ORBCOMM Inc. and Saab have received a grant from the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) to build, launch and commission a smallsat with global coverage. The Swedish space project is expected to start in October of 2020, with the launch of the demonstration satellite in mid-2022, followed by on-orbit demonstration and testing, which will end in the first quarter of 2023. (Source: Satnews)
31 Aug 20. Capella Space’s first SAR imagery satellite launches. The first satellite in Capella Space’s planned constellation was successfully deployed to orbit Aug. 31, bringing the company one step closer to its vision of offering global on-demand synthetic aperture radar imagery — a capability in which the U.S. government has expressed increasing interest.
The single microsatellite lifted off aboard one of Rocket Lab’s Electron rockets from the company’s New Zealand launch facility, before eventually being deployed to a circular orbit at approximately 500 kilometers.
Dubbed “Sequoia” by Capella Space, this first publicly available satellite in what is expected to be a 36-satellite constellation will be able to deliver synthetic aperture radar, or SAR, imagery of the Middle East, the Korean Peninsula, Japan, Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa and the United States. Customers for this imagery include the U.S. government.
Unlike traditional electro-optical sensors used to create satellite imagery, SAR uses radar. This gives SAR some advantages over traditional imagery, such as the ability to produce images regardless of inclement weather (cloud coverage) and whether the sun is shining.
Additionally, SAR can collect data on material properties, moisture content, precise movements and elevation. Capella Space claims Sequoia and the forthcoming satellites in the constellation will be able to detect sub-0.5-meter changes on the Earth’s surface. As a reference to these capabilities, the launch mission was named “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Optical.”
Executives told C4ISRNET a year ago that they hoped to get their first satellite on orbit by the end of 2019. However, the delay has not stopped Capella Space from securing a number of government contracts. The first came in November, when the U.S. Air Force awarded the company a contract to use its SAR imagery for virtual reality software, missile defense and to develop predictive intelligence to foresee foreign threats.
In December, the intelligence community got involved, with the National Reconnaissance Office awarding Capella Space a commercial study contract to better understand SAR imagery. A deal with the U.S. Navy was signed in May, and in June the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency signed the firm to a cooperative research and development agreement.
While waiting for the launch of its first satellite, Capella Space has been able to produce SAR imagery using a specially outfitted airplane.
This was Rocket Lab’s first launch since a July incident in which one of its launch vehicles failed, resulting in the loss of both the rocket and the three commercial payloads it was carrying. Following an investigation, the anomaly was identified and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration cleared the company to resume launch operations. During that investigation, both the National Reconnaissance Office and the U.S. Space Force told C4ISRNET that they intended to continue using the company’s launch services. (Source: Defense News)
25 Aug 20. OHB Group Signs Rocket Lab For Early 2021 Launch. OHB Group has signed a contract for a dedicated launch on an Electron rocket with Rocket Lab — the launch was procured through OHB Cosmos International Launch Service GmbH, the launch service division of the OHB Group. The mission will launch a communications satellite for an OHB customer and is scheduled for lift-off in early 2021 from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s M?hia Peninsula. This is the first launch contract between Rocket Lab and OHB, one of Europe’s leading space systems integrators which traditionally offers rideshare opportunities on large launch vehicles.
The mission will represent a rapid turnaround time of just six months between contract signing and launch. This streamlined path to launch, combined with Rocket Lab’s ability to deliver smallsats to precise and unique orbits, were key factors in OHB selecting Rocket Lab as the launch provider.
The OHB mission will be one of the first missions in a busy year of launch activity for Rocket Lab, with the company booked for launches every two weeks in 2021 across its two launch sites, Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand and Launch Complex 2 in Virginia.
Peter Beck, Rocket Lab’s founder and CEO, said the contract highlights the growing need that small satellite operators have for responsive, dedicated launch and noted, “As a respected leader in space, OHB Group has been providing access to orbit through rideshare opportunities and dedicated launches on medium and large size rockets for many years. We’re excited to be enabling a new capability for OHB and its mission partners by delivering rapid turnaround, dedicated small satellite launch on Electron. Missions like this one put small satellite operators in the driver’s seat, giving them control over their launch schedule and orbit, on their terms.”
“OHB delivers an unmatched delivery time to its customer with this project. This would not have been possible without the impressive reactivity of Rocket Lab“, said Lutz Bertling, Chief Strategy & Development Officer OHB Group.
“For this mission, OHB COSMOS International Launch Service is not only providing the launch service procurement like for several previous OHB missions in the last 25 years. In the New Space Era we are leading this specific spacecraft, payload and mission development supported by OHB divisions in Sweden, Germany and Czech Republic,” said Indulis Kalnins, OHB Cosmos Managing Director. (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.