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11 Sep 20. UK-built nanosatellites ready for take off. Four shoebox-sized, British-funded satellites will join a global fleet in orbit in the next two months.

Government-backed ‘nanosatellites’ – built in Glasgow – will launch later this month, joining a fleet of more than 100 objects in low Earth orbit that predict global trade movements.

Two of four nanosatellites, made by Spire Global UK and backed by over £6m of Government investment, will take off on the Russian Soyuz launcher on 24 September. The other two nanosatellites will be aboard an Indian PSLV launcher, due for launch on 1 November.

The Spire nanosatellites have onboard intelligent machine-learning algorithms that can predict the locations of boats, track their whereabouts and their estimated arrival times at ports, allowing port businesses and authorities to manage busy docks safely. Spire staff design and build all the sub-systems, and integrate and test the whole spacecraft in the company’s Glasgow headquarters.

Like mobile phones, satellites are also getting smaller and smarter and nanosatellites are roughly the size of a shoe box. Despite their size, they can do almost everything a conventional satellite does.

Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said:

Nanosatellites weigh less than a piece of cabin luggage, but are enormously powerful in what they can do. These four Spire satellites are aimed at making trade hyper-accurate, with technology that makes business more cost effective and efficient.

Scotland’s space sector is booming. Our membership of ESA is benefiting companies across the UK, and we are committed to supporting the space economy in every region.

Spire Global UK is a satellite-powered data company that provides predictive analysis or global shipping, aviation and weather forecasting.

These services have been developed under an ESA Pioneer programme, which is a partnership project co-funded by the UK Space Agency.

Peter Platzer, chief executive and co-founder of Spire Global.

Spire is all about helping our customers know what is next, so they can make better decisions. This month we are moving this forward by launching a true super-computer into orbit – 1-2 teraflops! – so that we can analyse data right in orbit, using smart algorithms and machine learning.

This will allow us to get better, smarter and faster analytics to our customers for their business decisions.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, work has progressed with full support from the UK Space Agency who, working with the European Space Agency, have extended exceptional financial support to small and medium-sized enterprises working in the space industry.

Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, said:

These are yet another example of innovative services provided by Spire under the ESA Pioneer programme that maximises benefits to industry thanks to an efficient co-management approach tailored to commercial best practices.

ESA’s Pioneer programme is one of the partnership projects that is aimed at de-risking partners’ investments, answering market needs. It is part of ESA’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunication Systems (ARTES).

Pioneer supports the emergence of commercial European entities with the ability to offer fast and affordable access to space to public and private customers in the field of satellite telecommunications.

The programme creates new opportunities for both established and new players in the fast-changing and competitive satellite communications market. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)


11 Sep 20. US, Allies Agree On Threats In Space But Struggle With Messaging.

“I would say that it’s not the fact, in itself, that we have Space Forces or Space Commands which is concerning. It is what you do with this,” says Maj. Gen. Michel Friedling, first commander of France’s new Space Command.

Over the past few years, US and allied militaries have converged as never before around fears of growing Russian and Chinese threats to space, DoD and outside experts say. But fundamental disagreements about how best to respond to the threats remain, with US allies facing much stronger domestic political resistance to the idea of space war.

This is creating a bit of schizophrenia in public messaging by Pentagon space leaders. On the one hand, senior officials have been blasting a clarion call for building up space warfighting capabilities as they seek domestic (read congressional funding) support for the new Space Force and Space Command. On the other hand, they are trying to dampen concerns among allies — or at least their skittish publics — about what some perceive as aggressive US intentions.

Maj. John Shaw, head of Space Force’s Space Operations Command, walked that tightrope during a panel discussion on allied milspace activities yesterday by stressing the need for the US to focus in the near-term on ensuring resiliency of current space systems to resist and deter attacks.

(Space policy wonks would point out that resiliency was the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s military space policy; whereas President Donal Trump has been, well, trumpeting the need for America to “dominate” space. And the new Spacepower Capstone Doctrine document does little to elucidate which one of those fundamentally different approaches the US military should prioritize — but that complex story is for another time.)

“The biggest challenge we have right now is protecting and defending capabilities that were built for a benign domain. And so the focus has to be on making those more resilient, so they are there for the warfighter and they are not an easy target,” Shaw told the Secure World Foundation (SWF) Summit for Space Sustainability this morning.

Shaw, who also serves as head of the Combined Force Space Component Command at Space Command, likened current US satellites to “supertankers and mega-container ships on the high seas.” These platforms and their support systems were “built for efficiency,” he explains, rather than to withstand torpedo attacks.

It’s not only the satellites themselves that need better resiliency, he stressed, but also the entire US space architecture from ground to orbit that has to be revamped to make it less tempting to adversaries seeking to exploit vulnerabilities in any future conflicts.

“How do we take what is currently an architecture that is not very resilient, that is seen as vulnerable, and now protect it, deter  attacks against it, to make it more resilient? … That is our most near-term challenge that we’re working on.”

To be sure, Shaw reiterated the Trump administration’s mantra that the new US military space organizations are needed because Russia and China have moved first to threaten US space assets and weaponize space.

“Pretty much in any domain in human history, from a military perspective  you invite conflict when there’s weakness, and I believe you deter conflict when there is strength,” he said.

But at the same time, in focusing on resilience, Shaw appeared to be putting down a marker designed to assuage concerns that creation of Space Force and Space Command could spur conflict by focusing on offensive space power.

Indeed, the US contention that Russia and China are ‘at fault’ in creating a military space race is a subject of some debate, given that from a technological viewpoint both countries have until recently lagged behind US military space capabilities. The same can be said for the repeated DoD assertions that up to now space was a wholly “benign” domain. (We are old enough to remember the uproar in 2001 over the warnings by Donald Rumsfeld’s Space Commission about a “Space Pearl Harbor.” )

The military officers from France, Canada and Japan on the SWF panel agreed with Shaw that threats from Russia and China are growing, and asserted that those threats are the drivers of their own pursuit of new military space capabilities. But they also were united in asserting that their own military build-ups (and their efforts to cooperate with the United States) should in no way be seen as aggressive or offense-focused.

“I would say that it’s not the fact, in itself, that we have Space Forces or Space Commands which is concerning. It is what you do with this,” said Maj. Gen. Michel Friedling, the first commander of France’s new Space Command, created in September 2019.

“It’s not the fact of having some space objects in space, or ready to go in space, which is concerning. It is what you do with it, what you show as intents, or, you know, what you wanted to show with this,” he elaborated. “And so this is actually what is concerning about some actors in space. And this is the reason why we have to be ready. Nobody has interest in any conflict in space. But we have to be ready.”

As Breaking D readers may recall, French President Emmanuel Macron approved the creation of the new command on July13, 2019, and Defence Minister Florence Parly announced a new military space strategy the following week that included the pursuit of lasers to ‘dazzle’ hostile satellites.

While France has shown much more willingness than many European countries to accept a need for offensive space capabilities, Friedling asserted that space situational awareness (SSA) — what the US military now calls space domain awareness — is the new French Space Command’s first priority. This includes beefing up joint efforts with Germany, Italy and others to develop new capabilities, he said.

“It’s an issue for us, transparency. I think we all need transparency in space,” he said. In France’s space strategy, he explained, “We say exactly what we’re going to do … . And this is not the case of many other actors in space.”

Japan’s new 20-person Space Operations Squadron is also focused on SSA, said Maj. Gen. Hiroaki Sakanashi, director general of the Project Promotion Group for Emerging Domains and Programs, Air Staff Office, in Japan’s Self Defense Force. The new unit is completely in line with Tokyo’s long-standing peace-oriented foreign and defense policies, he stressed.

“[Our] mission is just for acquiring the awareness, space situational awareness, because of the importance of space assets for national security but also the economy, for people’s daily life,” he said.

Brig. Gen. Mike Adamson, director general for space at Canada’s Department of National Defence, said the increased important of satellites to the economy and civil well-being has been a key driver for Canada in shaping its space operations. This is reflected, he said, in Ottawa’s emphasis on SSA capabilities and sharing information with allied nations.

“I’ll use Earth observation for an example. There’s obviously a military application to that. But as we see increased incidences of natural disasters, fires, floods, ice storms and those kinds of things, you know, protecting those assets and protecting those capabilities, and ensuring that we have the ability to provide that service to the Canadian public or to our allies as well, is critically important,” he said. “So there becomes this sort of blurring of the lines, perhaps, between military capability and civi/ commercial capability when you’ve got these platforms. And it is inherent upon the government to make sure that you can protect [commercial/civil] assets and their interests.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)

11 Sep 20. Kleos Space Scouting Mission November 2020 Launch. Kleos Space S.A (ASX:KSS, KS1, Kleos or Company), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company is pleased to announce that the Kleos Scouting Mission launching on the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) PSLV-C49 Mission from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota Range in India (SHAR) is being targeted during the 1st half of November 2020. The Company is launching the Scouting satellites under a rideshare contract with Spaceflight Inc, with the launch managed by NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), a Government of India company under Department of Space.

The Kleos’ Scouting Mission four satellites have been mission-ready since the middle of 2019, and were shipped to the launch site during February 2020, anticipating the launch during March 2020. Delay to the launch from March 2020 has been due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic situation.

The Company has been informed (by NSIL via Spaceflight Inc.) that the launch of the four Kleos satellites planned on-board PSLV-C49 mission is being targeted during the 1st half of November 2020, based on the current status of planning of activities. This schedule is subject to change due to operational circumstances beyond NSIL control. In due course, NSIL via Spaceflight Inc. will confirm the exact launch date once the activities at the launch base progress successfully.

10 Sep 20. France ramps up space capabilities. France has progressed its ambitious programme to ramp up national space capabilities, with the country’s ‘Le Commandement de l’Espace’ (CDE) space command now deemed to be fully operational.

The declaration was made by General Michel Friedling during a press conference held on 10 September at the Ministry for the Armed Forces. It comes about 12 months after the command was created and follows the 24 July announcement that the French Air Force (Armee de l’Air) is to be rebranded the Air and Space Force (Armee de l’Air et de l’Espace).

The CDE is staffed by 219 personnel based in Lyon, Paris, and Toulouse. By 2025, 470 people should be working within the organisation, which will have its own infrastructure in Toulouse within the local space centre built originally for the Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES); France’s space agency.The CDE was created to gather the French armed forces’ expertise in the field of space operations. The CDE has been given the authority and means to realise the country’s new space policy and conduct space operations. Even though the CDE is part of the Air and Space Force, its staff also includes members of the navy, army, and the Direction générale de l’armement (DGA) military procurement agency. (Source: Jane’s)

10 Sep 20. Gilmour Space confirms first Australian customer for 2022 launch. Queensland-based Gilmour Space Technologies has secured its first Australian customer for its maiden Eris rocket launch in 2022 – Space Machines Company has contracted to launch a 35-kilogram spacecraft to orbit, the largest payload announced to date by an Australian space company.

Space Machines Company is an Australian startup that is developing in-space transportation capabilities to cost-effectively insert small satellites into desired low-Earth orbits (LEO), geostationary Earth orbits (GEO) and cis-lunar (moon) orbits.

Adam Gilmour, CEO of Gilmour Space, welcomed the announcement, saying, “This could well be the first Australian payload to be launched to orbit on an Australian rocket, from an Australian launch site.”

Space Machines Company co-founder and CEO, Rajat Kulshrestha, echoed the sentiment, saying, “We are delighted to be supporting Gilmour’s first commercial flight and being part of this important milestone in the development of Australia’s space industry.”

Despite being a late entrant into the commercial space market, Australia’s pace of growth has accelerated in recent years with the emergence of smaller, more agile commercial players looking to tap into the $500bn-a-year global space economy.

“Start-ups like Space Machines Company are gearing up to launch their innovative new products and services to market. But getting to space is still a big challenge for small-payload customers, particularly if they need access to specific orbits or inclinations,” said Gilmour.

To meet this global demand, Gilmour’s first Eris rockets will be launching payloads up to 305 kilograms into LEOs – 215 kilograms into 500-kilometre sun synchronous orbits or 305 kilograms into 500-kilometre equatorial orbits.

“We’ve closed two commercial launch contracts in the last few months, and are targeting 12 rockets a year by 2025. It’s clear to us that the Australian space industry is ready for launch,” Gilmour added.

Gilmour Space Technologies is a venture-funded Australian rocket company that is developing new hybrid propulsion rockets for more affordable and reliable small satellite launches into low earth orbits from 2022.

Space Machines Company, is an Australian startup developing space transportation capabilities to cost-effectively insert small satellites into desired LEO, GEO and cis-lunar orbits, and provide essential sovereign capabilities for Australia’s future space requirements. (Source: Space Connect)

09 Sep 20. The First Members of Space Force Just Deployed to the Middle East. The U.S. Space Force has marked another milestone for the history books: the first official deployment of its troops — and it’s not to the moon. Twenty airmen assigned to the 16th Expeditionary Space Control Flight and the 609th Air Operations Center at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, transferred into the military’s newest branch during enlistment or oath of office ceremonies earlier this month, according to a news release. The airmen are in organic space career fields such as space operations and space systems operations, officials said.

“Those participating in today’s ceremony are not only joining our nation’s newest service, they are joining this service while deployed in defense of our nation,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Todd Benson, director of Space Forces for U.S. Air Forces Central Command, in the release.

“They are the first members of the United States Space Force to be deployed in support of combat operations,” he said of the Sept. 1 ceremonies, which marked the start of transferring personnel into the sixth military branch.

The 16th Space Control Flight hails from Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, which hosts a robust space mission.

Airmen have routinely supported exercises and deployments for troops who rely on space assets on the battlefield, including satellite communications and other networking resources. But airmen who’ve deployed for the latest mission anticipate “watching technology and tactics evolve as the U.S. rises to thwart adversary efforts,” according to the release.

For example, Senior Airman Aron Franks, of the 16th Expeditionary Space Control Flight, said he’s looking forward to putting his skills to the test as a space systems operations specialist who “geo-locates, characterizes and reports sources of electromagnetic interference to U.S. satellite assets,” the release states.

“It’s rewarding when you get to see how your efforts are being processed or applied to the overall fight, to see our piece of the puzzle,” he said.

Tech. Sgt. Cody Hircock, superintendent of the 16th, who has been in the space career field for more than a decade, said new technologies are giving troops the leading edge.

“Back when I joined my first unit in 2009, I actually got to watch them launch our third satellite,” said Hircock, who submitted an application to join the Space Force last spring. “Now, they have 10, so their capabilities have expanded.

“It’s been really impressive to see how much space — and the need for space — has expanded,” he said.

The airmen are supporting operations in the Middle East, officials said.

The Space Force will hold future ceremonies for airmen transferring in from other fields, such as acquisition, intelligence, engineering and cyber.

For the time being, the transferees will still be referred to as airmen.

Last month, Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, Space Force’s top enlisted adviser, said the branch was all ready to move ahead with announcing a rank structure until Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, proposed a new legislative amendment requiring the service to use Navy ranks.

“So we’ve got to let that law, that legal system, play out, and until it plays out, there’s really no point right moving forward,” Towberman said in a Q&A segment during the Air Force Sergeants’ virtual symposium.

“I’m ready to be a master chief if that’s what the law says I’ll be; we’re ready to pivot and do something else if we’re asked to do something else,” he said. “I know that that’s frustrating to folks; we really would have preferred to have an answer by now. We’re going to [start] bringing airmen in on Sept. 1, and for those junior grades, in particular, it means they’re still going to be called ‘airman’ even though they’re in the Space Force because we just don’t have any other options right now.”

Other pending decisions include dress uniform updates, Space Force-specific insignia and a rank structure; officials are still also deciding what to call its members.

But over the last year, the newest military branch has debuted its official logo, seal, flag and organizational structure. Like the Army and Air Force, officials last month also announced Space Force members will wear the Operational Camouflage Pattern as the official service duty uniform. (Source: Military.com)

09 Sep 20. COMSAT, the global satellite connectivity solutions provider and member of the Satcom Direct family, is further expanding its international terminal, hardware and service footprint following the signing of a new distribution agreement with global provider of airborne and maritime satellite solutions, Orbit Communications Systems Inc. (Orbit) .

The addition of Orbit’s Multi-Purpose Terminals (MPT) bolsters the extensive COMSAT portfolio, positioning COMSAT as a single source for both hardware and connectivity services for demanding government customers worldwide. The MPT WGX models deliver added value to COMSAT’s connectivity offering as the reliable, modular, multi-role aviation terminals are designed to be fully interoperable with the US Government’s military Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) network and are optimized for use over Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) Ka band constellation.

Available in 30cm (12in) or 46cm (18in), the lightweight, small-footprint terminals couple high transmit and receive performance and reliability, enabling a wide range of communication opportunities for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), military mission aircraft, rotary-wing platforms and business jets. With only three Line Replaceable Units (LRUs), the system is lighter and easier to install than existing offerings. Built to fulfill “anytime, anywhere” connectivity needs, the MPT WGX terminals provide outstanding RF and tracking performance for customers operating in the harshest environmental conditions The addition of Orbit’s OceanTRx hardware to the COMSAT range delivers further flexibility in creating customized connectivity solutions tailored to individual vessel needs. The Ocean TRX hardware range supports naval, cruise and oceangoing platforms delivering multi band terminals – C/Ka and Ku/Ka – to support high-speed data transmission to combined networks of MEO, LEO, HEO, and GEO constellations.

“Just like COMSAT, Orbit product development is driven by the desire to create the best next generation technology and deliver consistent customer satisfaction supported by a highly specialized technical team. We are excited to add this impressive range of products to our portfolio. It perfectly complements our existing range of services, enhances our current offering and extends our reach even further around the globe. Our mission is to provide reliable connectivity that enables essential missions and we know the Orbit terminals will uphold our ability to achieve this for our customers,” says David Greenhill, CEO of COMSAT.

“We are excited to be part of COMSAT’s satellite solutions offerings to the global government aviation and maritime markets. We have designed our solutions to allow for increasingly bi-directional high-speed communications where very high forward and return link speeds are required simultaneously. Coupled with COMSAT’s comprehensive solution approach, we believe customers will benefit from our technological innovations and the competitive total cost of ownership of our joint offerings,” says Dany Eschar CEO of Orbit. (Source: PR Newswire)

10 Sep 20. NASA Search and Rescue announces partnership with Aussie SmartSat CRC. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre (GSFC) has announced a collaborative partnership with the Australia-based SmartSat CRC to advance distress-related communications and navigation technology benefiting the US and Australia.

The co-operation with NASA, announced by GSFC deputy director for research and technology investments Christyl Johnson, will help to build Australia’s space industry by developing leading-edge technology and expertise with the partners involved in the SmartSat project.

These include University of South Australia, Safety from Space, Myriota, Black Art Technologies, Flinders University, and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

Johnson welcomed the collaborative agreement, saying, “We’re proud to lend the engineering expertise of our Search and Rescue office as SmartSat CRC works on next-generation rescue technologies.”

NASA’s Search and Rescue office is led by mission manager Lisa Mazzuca, who attended the Australian Space Forum in Adelaide with Johnson in February this year, when initial concepts of the projects were discussed.

“This collaboration is part of a more systematic and broader activity between NASA GSFC and SmartSat CRC and opens the door to a lot of possibilities for the Australian space community. We are delighted to be partnering with Goddard’s Search and Rescue office, joining their push towards the moon and beyond,” explained SmartSat CEO and managing director Professor Andy Koronios.

Specifically, the SmartSat research team, led by Safety from Space’s co-founder Dr Mark Rice, will propose new designs for the waveform of the 406 MHz signal sent by beacons through the Cospas-Sarsat network.

Dr Rice added, “These new designs will further modernise second-generation beacons, taking advantage of encoding techniques not available when the Cospas-Sarsat network was developed in the 1970s. This will enable possibilities for new initiatives for users, emergency management professionals and first responders.”

Future phases of the SmartSat collaboration could support exploration initiatives like the Artemis missions, which will return humans to the moon for the first time since Apollo.

NASA embraces partnerships to empower the agency’s missions while passing the benefits of space science and technology to everyone on Earth. This collaboration with SmartSat CRC is one example of the innovations that result from exploring together.

NASA will equip Artemis astronauts with second-generation beacons for use in the event of egress from capsule after splashdown or a launch abort scenario. The Search and Rescue team is working to extend beacon services to the lunar surface with the LunaNet communications and navigation architecture.

The SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre brings together over 100 national and international partners who have invested over $190m, along with $55m in federal government funding under its Cooperative Research Centres Program, in a $245m research effort over seven years.

Working closely with the Australian Space Agency, SmartSat will make a strong contribution to the Australian government’s goal of tripling the size of the space sector to $12bn and creating up to 20,000 jobs by 2030.

Priority industry sectors for SmartSat include telecommunications, agriculture and natural resources, transport and logistics, mining, and defence and national security. (Source: Space Connect)

09 Sep 20. COMSAT expands hardware footprint with new Orbit Communications Systems agreement. COMSAT, the global satellite connectivity solutions provider and member of the Satcom Direct family, is further expanding its international terminal, hardware and service footprint following the signing of a new distribution agreement with global provider of airborne and maritime satellite solutions, Orbit Communications Systems Inc. (Orbit).

The addition of Orbit’s Multi-Purpose Terminals (MPT) bolsters the extensive COMSAT portfolio, positioning COMSAT as a single source for both hardware and connectivity services for demanding government customers worldwide. The MPT WGX models deliver added value to COMSAT’s connectivity offering as the reliable, modular, multi-role aviation terminals are designed to be fully interoperable with the US Government’s military Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) network and are optimized for use over Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) Ka band constellation.

Available in 30cm (12in) or 46cm (18in), the lightweight, small-footprint terminals couple high transmit and receive performance and reliability, enabling a wide range of communication opportunities for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), military mission aircraft, rotary-wing platforms and business jets. With only three Line Replaceable Units (LRUs), the system is lighter and easier to install than existing offerings. Built to fulfill “anytime, anywhere” connectivity needs, the MPT WGX terminals provide outstanding RF and tracking performance for customers operating in the harshest environmental conditions

The addition of Orbit’s OceanTRx hardware to the COMSAT range delivers further flexibility in creating customized connectivity solutions tailored to individual vessel needs. The Ocean TRX hardware range supports naval, cruise and oceangoing platforms delivering multi band terminals – C/Ka and Ku/Ka – to support high-speed data transmission to combined networks of MEO, LEO, HEO, and GEO constellations.

“Just like COMSAT, Orbit product development is driven by the desire to create the best next generation technology and deliver consistent customer satisfaction supported by a highly specialized technical team. We are excited to add this impressive range of products to our portfolio. It perfectly complements our existing range of services, enhances our current offering and extends our reach even further around the globe. Our mission is to provide reliable connectivity that enables essential missions and we know the Orbit terminals will uphold our ability to achieve this for our customers,” says David Greenhill, CEO of COMSAT.

“We are excited to be part of COMSAT’s satellite solutions offerings to the global government aviation and maritime markets. We have designed our solutions to allow for increasingly bi-directional high-speed communications where very high forward and return link speeds are required simultaneously. Coupled with COMSAT’s comprehensive solution approach, we believe customers will benefit from our technological innovations and the competitive total cost of ownership of our joint offerings,” says Dany Eschar, CEO of Orbit.

08 Sep 20. Trump Directive A ‘Wakeup Call’ For 5G Satellite Cybersecurity.

“Rather than imposing specific requirements, SPD-5 affords all government stakeholders a policy framework to implement prudent practices to enhance resilience, including specific efforts to work with the commercial space sector overall and promote information sharing. That’s an improvement from the status quo,” Andrew D’Uva, US industry chair of the Space Force/NSA’s Commercial Space INFOSEC Working Group (CSIWG) says.

A new Trump Administration policy on space cybersecurity does not mandate any regulatory changes but does put pressure on commercial operators eyeing 5G communications to beef up their satellite networks against jamming and spoofing.

“It should be a wakeup call for those who haven’t really considered space cyber matters in detail,” said one industry expert heavily involved in government-industry consultations in crafting Space Policy Directive-5 (SPD-5), released by the White House on Friday.

DoD is rushing to integrate 5G communications at bases and to figure out how to exploit the coming space-based Internet for future all-domain operations. And while the Pentagon already requires that all contracted satellite operators encrypt their data links to ground stations using NSA-approved methods, it is eyeing how to expand its access to bandwidth by relying on commercial providers.

For example, SpaceX’s Starlink satellites is playing a big role the Air Force’s “on-ramp” demonstrations of its evolving Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), the second of which was held last week.

“There are occasionally discussions of things that you can do relative to the Internet — direct connection from the Internet to a spacecraft is one of those practices and probably seems unwise. Because something is technically possible doesn’t mean that we should do it,” one senior administration official told reporters in a late Friday background briefing on SPD-5.

He added that “space is not separate from” the Internet, and that growing cybersecurity threats and the growing importance of space to critical infrastructure — with GPS in particular ever more integrated into many economic sectors — mean more prudence is necessary.

“We can do a better job of what things we do going on into the future. And we can try to be careful with the things that are out there now,” he said.

As Breaking D readers know, many in the traditional space community have been worried about the scramble by newer space operators — including SpaceX, as well as others such as OneWeb and Amazon — to catch the 5G wave and integrate their satellite operations into the Internet of Things (IoT). But not only the newbies are pursing 5G networking, since IoT connectivity is expected to explode over the next few years and satcom providers want to stay competitive vice their terrestrial wireless competition.

SPD-5 shines a focus on what is known as “positive control” of spacecraft and systems — meaning that they have ways to ensure that hackers do not take over their satellites. This is particularly important for those operators who are relying heavily on autonomous operational capabilities, where a person may not be monitoring satellite functions and movements 24/7.

“Space system owners and operators should develop and implement cybersecurity plans for their space systems that incorporate capabilities to ensure operators or automated control center systems can retain or recover positive control of space vehicles. These plans should also ensure the ability to verify the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of critical functions and the missions, services, and data they enable and provide,” the policy says.

It recommends that operators, at a minimum, should adopt “appropriate cybersecurity hygiene practices, physical security for automated information systems, and intrusion detection methodologies for system elements such as information systems, antennas, terminals, receivers, routers, associated local and wide area networks, and power supplies.”

SPD-5’s does not fill regulatory gaps left by Department of Commerce and the Federal Communications Commission in recent rule revisions on remote sensing and communications satellites that worry many in industry. Nonetheless, it has been welcomed as top-level support for public-private efforts to ensure better satellite cybersecurity.

“I applaud the Presidential-level focus and leadership recognizing the importance of establishing and promulgating risk- based space cybersecurity principles aligned to address the expected threats to the unique operational environment of space,” Andrew D’Uva, president of Providence Access Company and US industry chair of the Space Force/National Security Agency’s Commercial Space INFOSEC Working Group (CSIWG), told me in an email today.

“Rather than imposing specific requirements, SPD-5 affords all government stakeholders a policy framework to implement prudent practices to enhance resilience, including specific efforts to work with the commercial space sector overall and promote information sharing. That’s an improvement from the status quo,” he said.

Neither does it weaken current national security rules for cybersecurity, D’Uva stressed.

“For critical environments, e.g., commercial satellite communications support of national security space missions, well-established, more stringent requirements and collaboration mechanisms will continue to apply – SPD-5 doesn’t relax those essential protections one bit,” he said.

Another senior administration official on Friday said that one of the key tools for expanding public-private space cybersecurity efforts is the Critical infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council (CIPAC). This, he explained, is “a mechanism to facilitate interaction between government entities and representatives from the critical infrastructure communities.”

There are 16 sectors deemed “critical infrastructure” by the USG, and a number include space-related industries. Various government agencies interact via the partnership with those sectors on cybersecurity, including DoD, Commerce, NASA, the Department of Homeland Security and NASA, the official said.

The officials said that the Space Information and Analysis Sharing Center (Space-ISAC), an industry-led group that works with government agencies, is another important vector for implementation of SPD-5. As I reported in December, the National Security Council has made supporting the Space-ISAC a key priority.

“The release of SPD 5 is clearly aligned, apparently deliberately so, with the Space ISAC mission of collaboration and engagement among industry and government to avoid onerous regulations yet achieve cyber security for critical space systems. Space ISAC is ideally situated to be the convening entity that will help the space industry execute on the vision set forth in the SPD for industry wide collaboration to avoid directive regulations, and to enable the industry to continue to innovate,” Edward Swallow, senior vice president Civil Systems Group at The Aerospace Corporation and member of the Space ISAC Board, said in an email today. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)

08 Sep 20. The US Space Force is using a repurposed civilian satellite for weather data. The U.S. Space Force can now collect critical weather data from a repurposed government satellite, the armed service announced Sept. 8, ensuring that war fighters have an accurate picture of what’s happening over the Indian Ocean.

The Space Force declared initial operational capability of the Electro-optical Infrared Weather System Geostationary satellite, a former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather satellite known as GOES-13.

The EWS-G1 satellite will now provide cloud characterization and theater weather imagery of the Indian Ocean region to the Department of Defense, filling a critical gap between the end of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program and the launch of a new constellation of weather satellites operating in low Earth orbit.

“EWS-G1 is a prime example of innovation and the leveraging of partnerships. SMC partnered with NOAA and NASA to deliver critically needed Geostationary visible and infrared cloud characterization and theater weather imagery in the Indian Ocean region. This effort demonstrates speed by allowing the spacecraft to be moved and operated in the Indian Ocean region far earlier than a new satellite could be produced and fielded,” said Charlotte Gerhart, the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Production Corps Low Earth Orbit Division chief. “The repurposing of GOES-13, and residual NOAA ground equipment, accomplished the mission at a fraction of the procurement cost of a brand new system.”

Initially launched in 2006, GOES-13 provided weather coverage of the American East Coast for 10 years before being replaced. No longer needed by NOAA, it was transferred to the U.S. Air Force in 2019. It was then relocated to its new position, where NOAA and the Space Force completed a thorough review of the satellite and its sensors. The satellite is currently providing weather data to the DoD, although the NOAA will continue to operate it on behalf of the Space Force. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

08 Sep 20. SD reaches major milestone as it installs FlightDeck Freedom® on 2,000th aircraft. Satcom Direct (SD), the business aviation solutions provider, has achieved a significant milestone for its FlightDeck Freedom® datalink service by activating its 2,000th aircraft. The head-of-state customer signed for the service to take advantage of its unique configuration options, ability to integrate third-party flight planning services, evolving compliance support, and the streamlining of flight crew and ground operations workflow.

Specifically designed for business and military aviation, FlightDeck Freedom® features an open architecture design to support every type of avionics and datalink-capable airframe and can be customized to meet each customer and/or aircraft platform’s mission needs.  On launch in 2007 it was the first datalink service to give customers the freedom – hence the name –  to select, upload from, and communicate with preferred third-party trip planning services and today is still the only datalink service provider with a comprehensive offering of flight planning options.  FDF also continues to be the only service that supports flight deck and cabin communications enabling crew to monitor connectivity and troubleshoot issues in real time to better manage passenger expectations.

In addition, FDF enhances operational safety through direct delivery of automated notifications including hazardous weather, route and security alerts, and supports real time aircraft and fleet tracking worldwide, which can be monitored from the ground and in the air. The unique GeoNotification feature details when aircraft are approaching a defined geographic area which may affect connectivity or be defined as sensitive airspace.

Integrated with SD Pro®, the digital flight operations management system, data shared through FDF synchronizes flight crew with ground operations keeping team members informed about aircraft performance in real time to support improved flight operations, budgeting and maintenance scheduling.  FDF also supports fleet compliancy with FANS, ADS-C and CPDLC to meet evolving Air Traffic Control safety requirements and the changing landscape of business aviation operations.

“Our focus is to always enable our customers to manage their flights and operations using the services, products and systems that best suit their needs. FDF was one of our first services built using open architecture to allow integration of third-party services. Reaching this milestone demonstrates the market’s hunger for integrated services that streamline the workflow. As the digitization of aviation continues to evolve, we will continue adapting and modifying our products to meet the changing requirements of flight crew, ground operations and the business aviation infrastructure,” says President of Satcom Direct Business Aviation, Chris Moore.

08 Sep 20. Rocket Lab launches first in-house designed, built Photon satellite. Rocket Lab has launched its first in-house designed and built operational satellite, cementing the company’s evolution from a launch provider to an end-to-end space solutions company that offers turnkey satellites and spacecraft components, launch, and on-orbit operations.

The satellite, named ‘First Light’, is the first spacecraft from Rocket Lab’s family of configurable Photon satellites to be deployed to orbit.

Launched as a technology demonstration, ‘First Light’ builds upon the existing capabilities of the Electron launch vehicle’s Kick Stage with additional subsystems to enable long duration satellite operations. This pathfinding mission is an initial demonstration of the new power management, thermal control and attitude control subsystem capabilities.

By testing these systems for an extended period on orbit, Rocket Lab is building up flight heritage for future Photon satellite missions planned to low-Earth orbit, the moon, and Venus.

‘First Light’ was deployed to orbit on Rocket Lab’s 14th Electron mission, ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Optical’, which lifted-off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand on 31 August 2020. Approximately 60 minutes after lift-off, Electron deployed a 100-kilogram microsatellite for Capella Space, an action that would typically signal the successful completion of a standard Rocket Lab mission.

However, shortly after deploying the customer payload, Rocket Lab conducted an entirely new operation for the first time: Rocket Lab engineers sent a command to transition the Kick Stage into Photon satellite mode.

Rocket Lab’s founder and CEO, Peter Beck, said, “We started with launch and solved it, releasing small satellites from the time and orbit constraints experienced when flying on larger launch vehicles. Now we’ve simplified satellites, too.”

This action marked the first on-orbit demonstration of Rocket Lab’s Photon satellite as a two-in-one spacecraft, first using it to complete its conventional launch vehicle function to deploy customer satellites, then transitioning into a satellite to continue a standalone mission.

“Launching the first Photon mission marks a major turning point for space users – it’s now easier to launch and operate a space mission than it has ever been. When our customers choose a launch-plus-spacecraft mission with Electron and Photon, they immediately eliminate the complexity, risk, and delays associated with having to build their own satellite hardware and procure a separate launch,” Beck said.

Designed for launch on Electron, as well as other launch vehicles, ‘First Light’ paves the way for future, high-energy variations of Photon designed for lunar and interplanetary missions, including the CAPSTONE mission to the moon for NASA in early 2021.

Lifting off from Launch Complex 2 in Virginia, Rocket Lab will use the Electron rocket and Photon Lunar spacecraft to launch NASA’s Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) CubeSat to Near Rectilinear Halo Orbit (NRHO), the same orbit planned for Artemis.

With the ‘First Light’ mission, Rocket Lab has completed its first full demonstration of its end-to-end mission services, encompassing mission design, component build and spacecraft assembly, integration and test (AIT), launch, ground segment, and on-orbit mission operation.

The process of developing the first on-orbit Photon also enabled Rocket Lab to refine and streamline production and testing processes for higher volume Photon production to meet growing customer demand.

Rocket Lab recently opened a new headquarters and manufacturing complex in Long Beach, California, to accommodate streamlined, rapid production of Photons.

The facility is also home to payload integration facilities for Photon missions, as well as a state-of-the-art mission operations centre.

The production complex is already home to extensive production lines delivering more than 130 Rutherford engines for the Electron launch vehicle every year, along with guidance and avionics hardware.

In addition to expanding its manufacturing complex, Rocket Lab recently acquired Sinclair Interplanetary, a leading provider of high-quality, flight-proven satellite hardware, to strengthen the Rocket Lab Space Systems division.

Sinclair Interplanetary products have become key features of the Photon satellite platforms, and Rocket Lab is also dedicating resources to grow Sinclair’s already strong merchant spacecraft components business.

The acquisition enables Sinclair Interplanetary to tap into Rocket Lab’s resources, scale, manufacturing capability, and innovative technologies to make world-leading satellite hardware accessible to more customers. (Source: Space Connect)

07 Sep 20. Pentagon kicks off development on initial tranche of space defence programme. The Pentagon’s Space Development Agency (SDA) has kicked off development on the initial tranche of new satellite communications and networking systems, as part of the agency’s overarching National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA) strategy to detect, identify, and deter potential terrestrial and space-based threats.

Colorado-based York Space Systems and Lockheed Martin were awarded a pair of firm, fixed-price development contracts to develop and construct space platforms and related systems for the Transport Layer segment of the NDSA, said Mark Lewis, Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. At a combined cost of USD218.5m, the dual development deals for the “Tranche 0” variant of the Transport Layer technologies will cover development of “space vehicles and paths to optical inter-satellite link interoperability”, according to Pentagon officials.

Once mature, those Tranche 0 space platforms, systems, and technologies “will provide US warfighters with periodic regional access to low-latency data connectivity via space-based extensions of existing tactical data links”, Lewis said during a media briefing on 1 September. The satellite constellations developed and fielded under Tranche 0 and future iterations of Transport Layer technologies will result in “tens of satellites with optical inter-satellite links capable of sending and receiving wideband data to and from other space vehicles and ground stations”, Lewis said. (Source: Jane’s)

03 Sep 20. US Army’s tactical network team looks to satellites for next iteration of tools. The U.S. Army’s tactical network modernization team is considering using satellite communications as a service capability for the next iteration of new network tools set for delivery in fiscal 2023.

The Army’s Network Cross-Functional Team as well as Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical held a technical exchange meeting Sept. 2 to discuss with industry focus areas and goals for Capability Set ’23, the next round of new network tools the Army plans to deliver to soldiers every two years.

Col. Shane Taylor, program manager for the tactical network at PEO C3T, outlined several priority areas for his program office, including a satellite-as-a-service need that he said provides a “wide gamut of opportunity.”

“The opportunity there is it could be anywhere from just leasing terminals to a cradle to [a] grave solution where we just say: ’All right, industry, if I need this capability in this location, what would that look like?’ And so the challenge really in the near term is it’s such a wide opportunity,” Taylor said. “There’s a lot of work that you’ll see us ask for some assistance going forward on that.”

While Capability Set ’21 centered on delivering technology to soldiers to address immediate network gaps, Capability Set ’23 is working to increase capacity, bandwidth and resiliency of the Army’s tactical network. Satellite communications is critical to that effort, Taylor said.

“I’ll keep hearkening back to resiliency, thickening, multi-path. SATCOM as a service also has a huge play in that role, and what I mean by that is it gives us just another opportunity to provide capability to the war fighter,” Taylor said.

Brig. Gen. Rob Collins, head of PEO C3T, said at the meeting that satellites will be a major focus for cooperative research and development agreements with Combat Capabilities Development Command’s C5ISR Center — or Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Center.

The Army is interested in the networking capabilities that satellites can provide. Collins said in August that the service expects low- and medium-Earth orbit satellites to reach technical maturity in 2025 or 2027.

While the Army’s tactical network team is exploring LEO and MEO capabilities, Taylor assured industry that traditional geosynchronous systems will still have a role to play.

“I think they all have a role,” Taylor said. “But where we need industry’s help is getting after the ability to leverage each of those capabilities without having to leverage three different types of systems.”

Preliminary design review for Capability Set ’23 is scheduled for April next year, with critical design review one year after that. Taylor said his team is also focusing on scalable and multi-band antennas so soldiers don’t have to change out “feed horns” to change bands.

The team also wants to automate the primary, alternate, contingency and emergency, or PACE, decision-making process based on network quality, metrics and availability, Taylor said.

Project Manager Tactical Network is focusing on next-generation line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight communications capabilities as part of a pushing by PEO C3T is to improve low-probability intercept/low-probability detect for Capability Set ’23.

Additionally, Taylor said his team will “always” be looking for industry’s help reducing cost, size, weight and power for the baseband.

Taylor’s program is also looking for solutions to system provisioning for the next iteration of network tools. “The initialization of the routers and switch[ing] the firewall [configurations] and then how we automate that process and move that out across the network continues to be a challenge. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)

03 Sep 20. Study raises new concerns about lack of governing norms in space. Commercial and government activities in space keep growing and yet nations are making little progress in establishing rules and norms of behavior, says the Center for Strategic and International Studies in a new report released Sept. 3.

The report looks at three key governance issues that CSIS analyst Kaitlyn Johnson contends need more international attention: orbital debris mitigation, rendezvous and proximity operations, and insurance requirements.

“The global landscape of national space policies concerning space sustainability, rendezvous and proximity operations, and insurance requirements is uneven and irregular,” Johnson says.

“Without clear national regulations and policies, the challenge to find international consensus and define technical standards for key issues in space governance remains bleak,” she says.

Some central points made in the study:

  • The lack of agreed international norms and processes for space traffic management increases the risk of collisions in space which is damaging to space sustainability and can be devastating to companies.
  • There is little to no consensus on definitions for space situational awareness, space traffic management, space debris mitigation or space sustainability.
  • Without coherent international actions to address the risk of debris, it falls on private space companies to adopt responsible satellite design and operational practices to ensure a sustainable space environment.
  • Rendezvous and proximity operations are poorly defined and there is a need for international norms of behavior and technical standards.
  • Space insurance represents a global mismatch. Some nations require higher levels of liability insurance, requiring startups to spend on average 33 percent of the satellite cost on space insurance. Additionally, there is a flux of insurance providers entering and leaving the market, causing further uncertainty. (Source: glstrade.com/Space News)

02 Sep 20. ST Engineering iDirect’s iQ Series SatModem Blended Into IP Access Int’l’s New FUSION Offering. ST Engineering iDirect, a company of ST Engineering North America, has announced that the company’s iDirect iQ Series Satellite Modems have been integrated into mobile and fixed satellite internet solutions provider IP Access International’s FUSION product line to meet increasingly complex communications requirements.

As demand for always-on connectivity from commercial, government and emergency services organizations continues to grow, solutions that enable seamless switching between different networks are becoming increasingly essential.

FUSION uses the iQ LTE satellite modem that features an integrated LTE cellular modem, to create a converged solution that automatically finds and connects to all available networks, including LTE, 4G/5G and multiple satellite networks, without user intervention. This delivers reliable data communication for several use cases where the physical path redundancy is critical.

This hybrid approach benefits markets, such as Government and Emergency Response, Oil and Gas, Mobile Banking, and Disaster Recovery, where connectivity is often limited due to their challenging operating environments.

The iQ LTE is part of ST Engineering iDirect’s DVB-S2/S2X modem series with a software-defined architecture for maximum flexibility and expansion. The integrated LTE modem offers fully automated VSAT/LTE failover and failback, WAN link affinity steering, advanced VPN connectivity, and an available SD-WAN option for robust enterprise-grade communications.

A range of applications can be run on the FUSION system, including data and voice (VoIP) GPS for mapping purposes, Radio over IP (RoIP) and streamed videos such as drone footage. The FUSION product line is available in two form factors: the 1U Rack Mount which allows for a space-conscious design meant for brick and mortar facilities or mobile vehicles where a satellite antenna is on the roof; and the Harrier flyaway communication terminal which features an integrated iDirect iQ200 board that offers robust, high performance mobility features.

“The iQ LTE modem and IP Access FUSION integration is a solution that enables customers to cost-effectively bring highly available and reliable connectivity to end users, opening up new business opportunities,” said Bryan Hill, CEO, IP Access International. “The value of the IP Access solution lies in its integrated design which removes the need for multiple rack units, addressing space constraints in confined command vehicles.”

“We are delighted that IP Access has leveraged our technologies to enhance its products, enabling the best connectivity experience at the right cost point to customers doing critical work in the field. IP Access has been our long-time partner and we look forward to more opportunities for collaboration in the future,” said Darren Ludington, Regional VP, Americas Sales, ST Engineering iDirect. (Source: Satnews)

01 Sep 20. MMA Engages With Northrop Grumman + AFRL To Capture Solar Power. MMA Design, in partnership with Northrop Grumman and the U.S Air Force, is working to develop space-based solar power transmission capability aimed at converting the sun’s energy into radio frequency for transmission back to Earth.

The Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations and Research program, or SSPIDR, is a unique concept that will enable the capture of solar energy in space to be returned precisely to where it is most needed on Earth.

According to a recent Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) press release, “SSPIDR is part of the AFRL’s ‘big idea pipeline’ to ensure we continue to develop game-changing technologies for our Air Force, DoD, nation and world.”

MMA will leverage its flight-qualified technologies,and expertise in efficiently-packaged deployables, RF antenna payloads and space power to support NG and AFRL in the development and demonstration of this new capability.

The Air Force Research Laboratory is the primary scientific research and development center for the United States Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. (Source: Shephard)

31 Aug 20. Arianespace’s 53 Smallsat Mission Is A Rideshare Launch Success. On Tuesday, September 2, at 10:51 p.m. local time in Kourou, French Guiana (UTC-3), Arianespace’s light-lift Vega launcher performed its 15th successful mission, marking its return to full flight — this is the first European “rideshare” mission for 53 smallsats.

The satellites onboard VV16 are in two smallsat categories: seven primary micro-satellites with a mass of 25 to 145 kg.; and 46 nano-satellites with a mass of 250 g. to 7 kg. The first seven satellites were released between the mission’s 40th and 52nd minute, while the remaining 46 were deployed during a sequence of less than three minutes, occurring 1 hour, 42 minutes after liftoff.

Among these 53 satellites, certain spacecraft will be dedicated to Earth Observation (EO), with innovative projects such as GHGSAT-C1, a Canadian satellite at the service of air quality; or ION Satellite Carrier Lucas for the Planet company. OSM-1 CICERO is the first satellite from Orbital Solutions Monaco, a Monegasque start-up; while ESAIL is the first commercial smallsat developed under the European Space Agency’s (ESA) SAT-AIS program for tracking ships.

Several experimental satellites also were on board Vega, such as TARS from the Kepler company, which is dedicated to the Internet of Things; as well as the 14 satellites from Swarm Technology, an American start-up whose mission is the use of artificial intelligence in robots and computers.

With the demonstration of its new SSMS service, Arianespace is strengthening its position in the growing market for small satellites. This service will soon be supplemented by the MLS (Multi Launch Service) – a similar offer available on Ariane 6, allowing Arianespace to increase the number of affordable launch opportunities for small satellites and constellations.

Proposed for the first time by Arianespace, the SSMS is a European project supported by Europe’s space team. Benefiting from European Space Agency (ESA) funding, the SSMS structure was developed by Avio, located in Colleferro, Italy – which is the Vega launcher’s industrial prime contractor – and manufactured by the Czech company SAB Aerospace.

The European Union also contributed to the funding of this demonstration flight in the Horizon 2020 program’s framework. As a new-generation light-lift launcher, Vega is perfectly suited to the requirements of the institutional and commercial market. Its performance and versatility enable Arianespace to offer the best possible solutions for putting small to medium-sized payloads into orbit for a wide range of missions: Sun-synchronous low orbit missions (such as Sentinel-2A), ballistic missions (the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle/IXV, as an example), missions in transfer orbit to the Lagrange Point L1 (LISA Pathfinder), and for numerous applications (Earth observation, science, education, defense).

According to the company, with Vega C, Arianespace will offer increased performance and volume under the payload fairing for its future passengers at the same cost.

“With Vega’s successful return to flight, we are delighted to have served 21 customers from 13 different countries,” said Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace. “These satellites will serve a variety of different applications, including Earth observation, the battle against climate change, telecommunications, the Internet of Things, science, as well as education. With this shared launch, space becomes accessible to everyone, including research labs, universities and startups. ‘Bravo’ to the European space team, which has worked from start to finish in adding this new service to Arianespace’s offering, enabling this magnificent success.”

This upcoming Proof of Concept mission – which carries a total of 53 small satellites on a new dispenser system – was authorized for Tuesday which confirmed the preparedness of Vega, along with the payloads, the Spaceport’s launch site infrastructure, and the network of tracking stations.

Designated Flight VV16 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, it will validate the Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) – using a modular dispenser whose components can be assembled as needed in a building-block style. For tomorrow’s flight, seven microsatellites are installed on the dispenser’s upper portion, while 46 smaller CubeSats have been positioned on the lower portion’s hexagon-shaped module.

During Vega’s flight sequence, the seven microsatellites are to be deployed in Sun-synchronous orbit from 40 minutes into the mission through 52 minutes; followed by the CubeSats’ phased release from 1 hour, 42 minutes to just under 1 hour, 45 minutes.

SSMS provides Arianespace with flight opportunities for nano- and micro-satellites, offering solutions perfectly suited to this growing sub-segment of the launch marketplace. The service enables multiple small satellites from 1 kg. to 500 kg. to be flown together on Vega with the objective of sharing the launch cost.

Arianespace and SSMS provide the same services to the small satellite operatore as the largest customers – while new operators such as laboratories, universities and start-ups are guaranteed optimum conditions for the launch of their space projects.

The SSMS dispenser system is a European Space Agency (ESA) product developed by Italy’s Avio under ESA leadership, and was produced by the Czech company SAB Aerospace s.r.o. (CZ). The European Union contributed to the financing of tomorrow’s Proof of Concept flight. (Source: Satnews)

28 Aug 20. Ball Aerospace Is Primed For USAF’s GC3 System. Ball Aerospace, teamed with Booz Allen Hamilton, was awarded a contract by the Space Rapid Capabilities Office (SpRCO) to serve as the prime system integrator for the SpRCO Ground Command, Control and Communications (GC3) system — GC3 will integrate into and help enable the larger tactical command and control enterprise for the United States Space Force.

The program will develop and deliver updated and enhanced satellite operations capabilities that enable continuous modernization by maximizing automation, flexibility and commonality. Key to the system’s flexibility will be the use of Hexicon, a modular, open and scalable event driven software architecture that allows for rapid and seamless integration of new software and overall increased system resiliency.

Ball draws upon two decades of ground systems integration and support, including command and control operations, for critical civil and national defense programs, such as NASA’s Kepler mission to discover exoplanets and U.S. Air Force’s Space-Based Space Surveillance program to detect and track space objects and spacecraft. With Hexicon at its heart, SpRCO’s GC3 system will represent the next step forward in scalable and future-proof operations.

“The GC3 System Integrator program provides a great foundation to work with SpRCO and other space resiliency mission partners to develop and deliver advanced capabilities to support the warfighter,” said Mark Healy, VP and GM, National Defense, Ball Aerospace. “This mission aligns directly with the 2020 Defense Space Strategy to enable the Department of Defense (DoD) to defend the space domain.”

“We look forward to working closely with SpRCO in developing a multi-mission ground system,” said Steve Smith, VP and GM, Systems Engineering Solutions, Ball Aerospace. “We are extremely excited to unleash the full potential of Hexicon, our ground-breaking event driven architecture developed for other advanced national defense programs and apply it to meet the Space Force’s global operations.”

“We look forward to supporting Ball Aerospace and the SpRCO and continuing to advance and defend our nation’s space superiority,” said Michael Johnston, VP, Booz Allen. “Booz Allen’s deep expertise shaping open-source solutions and securely integrating cloud services for ground systems engineering will help support this critical mission and keep cybersecurity at the forefront in the development and implementation of GC3.” (Source: Satnews)

28 Aug 20. OneWeb Gets FCC Approval For 1.280k More Satellites. The FCC has approved OneWeb’s request to deploy an additional 1,280 satellites to provide high-speed broadband services in the US.

The approval increases the number of satellites OneWeb can operate in the US market from 720 to 2,000, offering the company “greater opportunities to deliver satellite-based broadband services to the public,” the agency said in an order released August 26th. The FCC says its ruling will offer OneWeb greater opportunities to deliver satellite-based broadband services to the public.

OneWeb proposes to add a V-band payload to the 720 satellite Ku-/Ka-band constellation previously approved by the FCC and proposes 1,280 additional V-band satellites operating at a nominal altitude of 8,500 km. “The OneWeb constellation will be authorized by the United Kingdom,” stated the FCC, adding, “The additional spectrum bands and satellites proposed in the OneWeb Petition would build upon OneWeb’s Ku/Ka-band Market Access Grant. Such additional capacity would enhance OneWeb’s ability to offer its proposed broadband services in the United States.”

“We conclude that granting OneWeb access to the US market for its proposed V-band satellite system would increase competition for the broadband services proposed to be provided by such systems to American consumers, particularly in underserved areas, offer a greater likelihood that such a large system is able to fulfill its ambitions and deploy the proposed services,” the FCC added.

However, the FCC insists that OneWeb pay a “surety bond” by September 26th this year and also launch 50 percent of the proposed satellites no later than August 26th 2026 and complete the constellation by August 26th 2029.

“We are pleased to hear the FCC granted our V-Band application. The V-band is critical for next generation satellite broadband services. OneWeb looks forward to the future growth opportunities this approval will enable as we commercialize our spectrum and execute on our mission to bring low latency connectivity to communities, governments, businesses, and people in the US and around the world,” a OneWeb spokesperson said. (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.


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