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16 Oct 20. U.S. unveils streamlined commercial space regulations Thursday. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration unveiled final regulations on Thursday on streamlined commercial space launch and re-entry license requirements, a senior official told Reuters.
The 785-pages regulation, which was first proposed in March 2019, consolidates four separate regulations and will apply a single set of licensing and safety rules for all vehicle operations.
The administration said it was replacing “prescriptive regulations with performance-based rules, giving industry greater flexibility to develop means of compliance.”
U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the regulations, which had not been updated in more than a decade, will “better facilitate commercial space transportation while protecting national security and maintaining public safety.”
Wayne Monteith, the FAA’s associate administrator for commercial space transportation, told Reuters a company will be able to get a “single five-year license to cover multiple launches from multiple locations.”
The FAA’s new rules will bring it in line with the Defense Department’s orbit collision avoidance requirements to avoid other satellites or rocket bodies. FAA’s prior rules only required avoidance with human-rated vehicles.
U.S. companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Amazon.com plan to launch thousands of satellites into orbit in the coming years.
In July, Amazon said it would invest more than $10bn to build a network of 3,236 satellites to provide high-speed broadband internet. SpaceX is building a network of roughly 12,000 satellites for its Starlink constellation in low Earth orbit.
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said when space tourism begins in earnest, there are likely to be 100 launches a year.
The rule will become effective in about 90 days. The FAA plans workshops Nov. 4-6 to explain how industry will be impacted by the new requirements.
The regulation acknowledged some provisions “may increase the risk to public safety compared to the current regulations” but the FAA said “increased risk is minimal and there is a corresponding public interest benefit.” (Source: Reuters)
16 Oct 20. Kleos Space launch team arrive in India for final preparations before imminent launch of mission satellites.
- Kleos Space Launch Team arrive in India for imminent Launch
- Gavin Bowyer Kleos Space MAIT manager – Mars and Mercury Missions
- Satellites will be armed for flight, inserted into their dispensers
- Global Customers eagerly waiting for Kleos Space data
Kleos Space S.A. (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1,) (Kleos or Company), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company confirms that the team mission experts have arrived in Chennai, India in preparation for the launch of Kleos’ four Scouting Mission nanosatellites aboard PSLV C49 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.
The launch is due in early November 2020.
Kleos Space’s Gavin Bowyer supported by Ed Stevens from In-Space Missions and Marcy M. Rugland from Spaceflight arrived in Chennai on the 15th October 2020.
Gavin Bowyer is the MAIT (Manufacturing, Assembly, Integration and Test) Manager at Kleos Space having joined the Company at its formation from UK Space Company Magna Parva where he has overseen and built equipment for Mars and Mercury exploration missions over a 10 year Space career.
Ed Stevens is the Director of Space Systems at In-Space Missions, a Space as a Managed Service company, where he leads the design, build and operation of the company’s satellites. Ed brings his 20+ years of space experience in design, build and launch to bear in providing support to Kleos in delivery of the Scouting Mission nanosatellites.
Spaceflight Mission Manager Marcy M. Rugland is an experienced engineering leader with a passion for commercial space and aerospace. As a Mission Director, she has overall technical and schedule responsibility for the KSM, meaning from the mission assignment to post-launch, including onsite launch campaign team leadership. Marcy also volunteers as a member of the steering committee of “Ladies who launch”.
The team will undergo a system checkout and mechanical inspection prior to battery charging, and fuelling. The satellites will be armed for flight, inserted into their dispensers and finally integrated onto the PSLV launch vehicle.
Andy Bowyer, CEO of Kleos Space added – “We are immensely proud of the entire team, launching satellites is always a huge challenge and the COVID-19 pandemic has made logistics and travel even more difficult, their dedication to getting our Scouting Mission satellites into orbit and to collecting data in order to deliver enhanced situational awareness for our customers has been remarkable.”
15 Oct 20. SMDC Pushes For New PNT, Tracking Sat Payloads. Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s (SMDC) lab is combing through its cutting-edge research on space capabilities to come up with ways to help the service conduct all-domain operations and make strikes deep within enemy territory, says Tom Webber, director of SMDC’s Technical Center.
“We just did two days of S&T reviews on all this, which will inform the investment strategy for the Army,” he told Breaking D in an interview on the eve of the annual Association of the US Army show.
“Our efforts are really focused on the sensor-to-shooter [kill chain], providing situational awareness down to the lowest tactical level possible, and providing assured PNT [Precision Navigation & Timing] to the ground combat force. And so we’re focused on enabling that ground combat force to have really unprecedented access to space and space-enabled capabilities,” he added.
SMDC’s Technical Center consists of the space and strategic systems directorate, the air and missile defense directorate and the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll. Its work is divided into four key areas: directed energy, tactical space technologies, test and evaluation, and hypersonics.
This work is part of a larger Army effort, launched in November by Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, to map out its future space endeavors, an Army spokesperson said in an email. The Army’s Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing Cross Functional Team (APNT CFT) — despite its name — is coordinating all Army space sector activities, not just PNT. This includes ISR; communications; PNT; and Battle Management Command and Control (BMC2) based on Low Earth Orbit (LEO) sats. It also includes the service’s effort to develop a common, mobile ground station under project TITAN (Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node) able to integrate sensors operating in all domains.
The Army is particularly focused on LEO-based systems, Webber explained, because of the advantages they provide in lowering the lag time in bouncing information between satellites and ground systems across multiple areas of operations. In addition, small LEO satellites — even in large numbers — are in general cheaper than the large, highly-capable satellites traditionally built by the Air Force and the Intelligence Community.
Webber said the Technical Center has somewhere between $13-20m in its 2021 space budget. The work is focused on breakthrough sensor payloads in LEO for targeting long-range fires and providing alternative access to PNT signals in contested environments where GPS satellites are highly vulnerable.
The key word here is payloads, Webber stressed, saying the Army is not really interested in developing or even operating its own satellites.
“We’re really focusing on the payload and not the satellite per se. So we want to leverage industry and the commercial companies for the satellite busses. I’m not in the satellite bus business, I’m in the deliver capability to the warfighter business,” he said.
The Army is also “absolutely coordinating” with the Air Force, the Navy and the Space Development Agency (SDA) to leverage their sensor and proliferated LEO sat efforts, he said. While the services all have “a little bit different needs,” he explained, “in the end the same basic technologies or even satellites systems can be be put to a variety of different applications.”
“And so we are looking at a combination of hosted payloads and specific, small form-factor busses and payloads that can be put up and managed, not necessarily by the Army because the satellites can be operated and maintained by by anybody. It’s a combination of all of those things to most affordably get the numbers of satellites up to provide the difference that we know they can make. And we’re looking at multiple ways to do that.”
One thing the Army is not looking to do, Webber noted, is to duplicate others efforts at missile tracking and targeting via infrared (IR) imaging. “We’re not focusing on that — IR or the visible sensing aspects of this. There’s a lot of folks out there that are doing that, and Army wants to leverage those capabilities.”
As Breaking D know, there are three signature programs for LEO sat payloads:
The Army over the past several years has experimented several iterations of classified satellites under this program. The latest effort, Gunsmoke-L, has been underway since November of 2018, when the Army awarded a two-year, $8.3m contract to Dynetics to develop, test, integrate and demonstrate two so-called tactical space support vehicles. The end product will be a tiny experimental Cubesat.
“We hope to have Gunsmoke up, but at the about the end of this year,” Webber said. “Gunsmoke really contributes to the deep fight, and the long-range precision fires capabilities. With hypersonic weapons and these long-range strike penetration capabilities, it’s really hard to shoot something that you can’t see. So, it’s about how do you get that deep sensing capability. That supports, obviously, the Army who’s supposed to help kick in the door, and it also helps across the joint fight.”
He wouldn’t discuss the classified satellite’s specific capabilities. Since the Army isn’t developing electro-optical or IR payloads for ISR from space, a good guess would be that Gunsmoke is carrying a radio-frequency (RF) geo-location package. As Sydney has reported, the Army has been experimenting with such sensors — which use radio signals to trace back a target’s location — as an upgrade to the Precision Strike Missile. The builder and oeprator of America’s spy satellites, the NRO, issued its first contract to study RF geolocation late last year to startup Hawkeye 360.
Lonestar is designed to warn commanders about GPS jamming on the battlefield and to characterize the signals environment in a contested area so that the Army can overcome the problem and operate effectively, Webber explained.
“It improves our situational awareness of what is what is happening in the PNT and space world,” with an eye to Joint All Domain Operations (JADO), he said.
“We actually hope to have Lonestar, at least the first one or two of those, going up or early next year,” Webber said.
Polaris also is aimed at APNT, Webber explained, but its primary goal is to provide an alternate GPS capability in contested battle spaces. He was spare on the details of the program, except to stress that the oft-forgotten timing element in PNT is critically important for ADO.
The Technical Center also is “in conversations with SDA” on Polaris, he added. “They’re looking at that to potentially help them do some of their Transport Space Layer work.”
As Breaking D readers know, Defense Secretary Mark Esper ordered all the military services to look to SDA’s “data transport” satellites to connect their separate command and control systems for future all-domain operations. SDA has awarded Lockheed Martin and York Space Systems contracts to build 10 data relay satellites: Lockheed got $187.5m; and York $94m. (Source: glstrade.com/Defense News)
15 Oct 20. AUSA 2020: US Army leaders weigh up commercial broadband for LEO satellites. Members of the US Army’s Assured Position, Navigation, and Timing Cross Functional Team (APNT CFT) have begun conducting preliminary experiments exploring the use of commercial broadband networks to support satellite communications (satcoms) from low earth orbit (LEO) constellations.
The ongoing experimentation with civilian broadband technologies into military LEO communication operations is part of a larger co-operative effort between ANPT CFT and the Network Cross Functional Team (N-CFT), both headquartered under the US Army’s Futures Command, and the command’s advanced technology incubator dubbed ‘Team Ignite’.
“In both those cases, we are looking to ensure increased bandwidth and resilience in the network,” said John Wilson, deputy to the commanding general US Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC). “One of the elements of that is use of LEO satellites, in order to thicken the network in specific areas” to support army operations worldwide
“There have been a number of agreements established with commercial vendors, and the intent there is to leverage whatever capability – whether it is terrestrial or satellite – is available at any time” to ensure dependable connectivity, he said during a 14 October briefing at the Association of the US Army’s annual symposium. (Source: Jane’s)
15 Oct 20. GAD assists development of UK spaceflight industry. GAD takes part in a cross-government project to set insurance requirements and provide risk analysis for the new UK spaceflight launch industry.
The Government Actuary’s Department (GAD) has been at the centre of helping set up the new spaceflight launch industry in the UK.
Experts from GAD have provided the UK Space Agency, Department for Transport (DfT) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) with support in terms of setting insurance requirements and providing risk analysis for this new frontier.
The work has been carried out ahead of spaceflight launches which are set to take off from the UK in the early 2020s. In preparation for this, DfT, UK Space Agency and CAA have launched a consultation on legislation and insurance requirements associated with launch activity.
Safety is at the heart of our proposed regulatory regime under the Space Industry Act 2018. Launch from the UK is a new activity that presents new and different risks from those posed by traditional aviation.
Operators will be required to demonstrate that the risks their activities pose to the uninvolved general public are as low as reasonably practicable. They will also need to demonstrate that the residual risk is at a level that is acceptable to the regulator. If an accident does happen, insurance therefore provides an important resource to meet potential claims.
GAD has helped to develop the methodology to enable the spaceflight regulator to assess the amount of third-party liability insurance which spacecraft operators will have to buy to cover the unlikely event that a spaceflight accident impacts on third parties.
The UK government is proposing to use a Modelled Insurance Requirement (MIR) approach to assess the impacts of a range of accident scenarios to tailor the insurance required to the specific risks of each launch. The MIR calculation takes into account the following areas:
- property damage (residential/commercial and agricultural)
- damage to the environment
- damage and destruction of high value infrastructure (for example oil and gas facilities)
Nick Clitheroe, the GAD actuary who led the project said: “We were asked to help UK Space Agency establish a set of financial values for each of these categories that could be applied in the MIR. While a similar approach is used in the USA, the MIR needed to reflect the UK’s compensation system and different launch risk profile.
“Given the inherent uncertainty about who or what might be impact in an accident, the methodology was needed to take a large range of variables into account. These helped the UK government to determine a single figure for each category.
“The aim was to derive a robust figure that reduced the risks of over- or under insurance for operators and minimised the government’s contingent liability.
“This is important because the insurance market does not have sufficient capacity to cover all of the risk that may arise. Above an upper limit of insurance required for each launch, the government would take on the liability.”
Modelling and calculations
The UK Space Agency undertook the modelling of potential events leading to third party claims and GAD advised on the average payment that courts would likely award in the event of death, injury or property damage.
GAD built a detailed model which placed values based on the current level of earnings. We also worked out how much would be paid as a lump sum in the event of death or serious injury. The information and data came from the Office of National Statistics and from the Ogden Tables.
GAD has been working with the UK Space Agency on the insurance and risk analysis as a way of further quantifying how much incidents may cost. As part of this, we devised an average payment for each incident and the UK Space Agency was able to apply that to their modelling.
The current consultation asks people to provide comments on the MIR approach and the approach to limiting operator liabilities. It lasts 4 weeks and will close on 10 November. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
15 Oct 20. US Army Aims To Field TITAN Terminals For All-Domain Ops In 2024. The Army and Air Force are still “defining the relationship” between TITAN and the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), an Army spokesperson says.
The Army hopes to start early prototyping its flagship all-purpose, mobile ground station known as TITAN next year. The Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node is meant to underpin Army Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) — that is, connecting sensors and shooters across the air, land, sea, space and cyberspace domains so they can share targeting data in seconds.
“The program is currently going through an Analysis of Alternatives which will shape final requirements and system capabilities at echelon,” a spokesperson for the Army’s Project Manager Intelligence Systems & Analytics said. The goal is to formulate an official “program of record” to develop and buy the new system. “Early prototyping and system design efforts will start in FY21 and result in multiple prototypes in FY22.”
TITAN, a key contribution to the military’s future Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) network, will bring data from ground, air, and space sensors; the other two domains, which it won’t touch, are the sea and cyberspace. It is envisioned as a “unified” ground station that can take data not just from satellites, but also from aerial and terrestrial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) sensors to provide targeting data directly to Army Long-Range Precision Fires (LRPF) networks.
“TITAN will provide a scalable, expeditionary, and tactical ground station or ‘catcher’s mitt’ that integrates Joint, Department of Defense, Intelligence Community, and Commercial multi-intelligence data, products, and services,” the spokesperson said. “This includes not only space-based ISR capabilities, but also organic aerial and terrestrial systems such as the Multi-Domain Sensing System (MDSS) and Terrestrial Layer System (TLS).”
TITAN, using artificial intelligence and machine learning, should enable the Army to detect, characterize, and action threats “at the speed of demand in multi-domain operations across the continuum of operations, from competition to crisis to conflict,” the spokesperson added.
TITAN is building on earlier initiatives and prototypes spearheaded by the Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities (TENCAP) Program office, which conducts advanced development and rapid prototyping. “TENCAP has conducted risk reduction efforts through experimentation and demonstration of existing ground station capabilities (such as ADV and RGT) specifically focused on the ingest of governmental and commercial space remote sensing data and its ability to close the sensor-to-shooter loop,” the spokesperson explained.
ADV stands for another one of those pesky nested acronyms beloved by the Army, the Advanced Miniaturized Data Acquisition System (AMDAS) Dissemination Vehicle. RGT is the Remote Ground Terminal. Both are satellite terminals developed by TENCAP as precursors to TITAN, the spokesperson explained, to help define TITAN concepts of operations and tactics, techniques and procedures.
The plan, the spokesperson said, is to make the first prototypes able to support upcoming exercises, including:
- Joint Warfighting Assessment (JWA), organized by the Army’s Joint Modernization Command and that serves as a command post exercise for the Defender exercises This year’s JWA, originally scheduled to begin in late April, was postponed due to the pandemic. The next one, JWA 21, is now slated to begin the last week of June 2021.
- Defender Europe is the Army’s large annual exercise in Europe with the NATO allies. Defender 20 also was cancelled this year due to the pandemic, although smaller portions of the exercise were undertaken separately (such as the mini-Defender-Europe in Poland this summer.) Defender Pacific is a joint Army, Air Force, Navy exercise to support Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), with this year’s version taking place in September.
- Project Convergence, a new exercise to test various technologies to support MDO, the first of which was held this year in late September.
The Army spokesperson explained that two of the TITAN prototypes will be “dedicated to national/commercial space-based ISR access” during those exercises, and then will “become leave-behind capabilities,” to be handed over to the Army’s Multi-Domain Task Forces (MDTF) for future use.
“Additional prototypes in FY22 will include the fully integrated space, aerial, and terrestrial layer access. The latter will support Test & Evaluation and a production decision for TITAN by the end of FY23. The first TITAN systems will start fielding in FY24,” the spokesperson added.
What remains unclear, however, is how — and when — TITAN will integrate with the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), which is working on numerous types of software and hardware to serve as a foundation for JADC2. TITAN has not been part of the three ABMS On Ramp demonstrations held by the Air Force, but, as Sydney reported back in May, the Army has invited the Air Force to bring its ABMS tech to Project Convergence in 2021.
“The TITAN team has had engagements with ABMS and is still defining the relationship,” the spokesperson said. “The Army and the US Air Force (USAF) signed an agreement to jointly develop a battlefield communications network, called Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control (CJADC2). The TITAN PoR will synchronize development through those efforts.”
Army and and Air Force staffers now are working to implement the Oct. 2 accord between Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and his counterpart Gen. Charles Brown to mesh their disparate efforts to link all sensors to all shooters into an advanced command and control (C2) network into a CJADC2 network. (As we said, the jargon just keeps getting uglier.) CJADC2 is code for a truly ambitious effort: “combined” refers to allies and coalition partners; “joint” to US services; “all-domain” to land, air, sea, space, and cyberspace; “command and control” to coordinating military operations across all those actors and arenas.
The Army has also been working closely with the Space Development Agency to ensure that TITAN can leverage the various Low Earth Orbit satellite constellations being developed under the agency’s National Defense Space Architecture plan to create more resilient US space capabilities. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has ordered all the services to use SDA’s budding “Transport Layer” of data relay satellites to link their various C2 networks into the evolving JADC2 network.
“We are working to define key interfaces and relationships with Army and Joint partners,” the spokesperson said. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
14 Oct 20. Orbital Sidekick Awarded $16m U.S. Air Force STRATFI Contract. The company will deploy six hyperspectral imaging satellites to provide daily targeted monitoring for the defense and commercial markets.
Orbital Sidekick (OSK) announced today that it has been awarded a $16m multi-year contract by the Department of the Air Force’s commercial investment group (AFVentures), in conjunction with the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), as part of its Strategic Financing (STRATFI) program. This award, which is matched by private investment funds, will allow OSK to accelerate the deployment of six advanced hyperspectral imaging (HSI) satellites with edge processing capabilities as well as integrate its Spectral Intelligence Global Monitoring Application (SIGMA™) platform with the USAF Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS).
SIGMA™ is a dual-use global persistent monitoring services platform that provides access to OSK’s data archive, analytics engine (including its proprietary hyperspectral neural network), and intelligent satellite tasking system for both defense and commercial applications.
OSK’s satellites leverage advanced hyperspectral capabilities, capturing more than 400 spectral bands in the visible to shortwave infrared range (VSWIR, 400 – 2500 nm) at <10m GSD. The first of these microclass satellites are targeted for a December 2021 launch. The constellation will achieve a better-than-daily target revisit rate.
“High spectral fidelity is essential for solving some of the most challenging remote sensing problems our customers face today,” Dr. Katie Corcoran, Director of Operations & Government Programs, said. “This new capability will allow OSK to offer best-in-class data products to our defense and industry end-users, enabling analytical insights not currently achievable with existing space-based imaging systems, on a global scale.”
“Orbital Sidekick is emerging as a leader in the commercial sector for providing objective, persistent monitoring services for critical energy infrastructure. As we broaden our market reach into the defense sector, we’re honored to receive this ‘big bet’ by the innovative team at AFVentures,” Daniel Katz, CEO & Co-Founder of OSK, said. “The opportunity to work with SMC and AFRL will further enable the rapid scaling of our capabilities.”
“Orbital Sidekick leans heavily into the implementation of a Hybrid Space Architecture for tactical ISR support with its innovative hyperspectral technology and analytics platform,” Charlene Jacka, AFRL HAD Program Lead, said. “The AFRL Hybrid Architecture Demonstrations (HAD) program vision is further enabled by participating with the innovative team at Orbital Sidekick.”
About Orbital Sidekick
Orbital Sidekick’s proprietary analytics platform and hyperspectral payload architecture provide persistent space-based monitoring solutions powered by Spectral Intelligence™. This unique radiometric speciation and change detection capability enables unparalleled target monitoring services for both commercial and defense users on a global scale.
For more information on Orbital Sidekick’s global persistent monitoring services, please visit www.orbitalsidekick.com (Source: PR Newswire)
13 Oct 20. US Army tactical network office wants industry info on SATCOM as a service. The U.S. Army’s tactical network modernization office released a request for information Wednesday for commercial satellite communications as a service.
The RFI, released by Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, will give the Army tactical network team an improved understanding of existing industry best practices, technological advancements and innovative business models for commercially managed satellites that could replace the operating design of its logistics network, known as the sustainment tactical network.
“We are looking to our industry partners to provide us with inventive approaches to meet our logistics transport capabilities needs,” said Col. Shane Taylor, the Army’s project manager for Tactical Network (PM TN), in a press release. “This includes both end item material solutions, as well as what corresponding leasing cost models could look like to enable the Army to maximize capabilities while balancing long-term affordability.”
Commercially managed SATCOM would be an improvement over the standard SATCOM capabilities because currently the Army must purchase all the hardware, software, maintenance and sustainment needs, along with other related capabilities, on independent, standalone contracts, the press release said. With SATCOM as a service, the PEO C3T will procure all the capabilities under a single contract, paying for each leased Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) ground satellite terminal.
“We want to deliver the right STN SATCOM capability at the right price, while keeping current with technology and ahead of obsolescence,” said Lt. Col. Natashia Coleman, product lead for Unified Network Capabilities and Integration. “To do that we need to better understand how and what industry can provide, what their different managed services models would look like, how they could each best support our hardware and support services requirements, and then compare that to the more traditional way we are providing the capability now and determine which would work best.
“Whatever the outcome, taking the time upfront to review all of the options will enable us to deliver the best solution for the Army,” she sadded.
According to Paul Mehney, communications director for PEO C3T, the program office expects industry to demonstrate their SATCOM as a service capabilities for engineer and operational assessment. Mehney said that the office will consider the companies’ ability to provide and maintain terminals, obtain host nation agreements for use of bandwidth, provide a help desk to address network access issues, and technical support to users and VSAT systems.
Mehney also said that the logistics network modernization efforts aligns with increased capacity, resiliency and convergence goals of Capability Set ’23, the next iteration of new network tools set to be delivered in fiscal 2023.
“We are looking to incorporate STN design goals as part of CS23 and beyond; providing initial STN elements for CS23 (such as modernized VSAT and Local Transport capabilities) to support CS priorities over time,” Mehney said. Responses are due Nov. 6. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
14 Oct 20. Australian intelligence agencies prepare for small satellite deployment. Australian intelligence agencies are planning to experiment with small satellite technology, which typically includes aircraft and marine vessel tracking as well as weather forecasts, as part of a tie-up with San Francisco-based space data and analytics company Spire Global.
The Djara satellite, developed for Australia’s Office of National Intelligence, is scheduled to be deployed from the International Space Station early next month, Spire said in a statement to Reuters.
“While Djara is not at operational capability, it will provide the Australian national intelligence community the ability to explore the potential applications of commercially available small satellite systems,” Spire said.
The tie-up between a commercial satellite company and a government agency is the first of its type in Australia, and is part of a growing industry where large numbers of tiny satellites – that can weigh less than a small suitcase – provide information to their commercial and government clients from their low-Earth orbital viewpoint.
Australia’s Office of National Intelligence did not immediately respond to questions after hours.
The Australian government recently set up its own space agency and also nominated the sector at last week’s budget as one it will support through funding measures.
Australia, a vast continent in Asia-Pacific, is an important site for ground stations, used for space missions and by satellite operators to communicate with their orbiting hardware.
A West Australian ground station is among several around the world that will no longer allow access to Chinese customers after current contracts expire due to geopolitical concerns, Reuters reported in September.
Spire’s small satellites obtain data by tracking planes, ships and other vessels, while also providing information that helps with the analysis of weather patterns and forecasts.
The company said the Djara satellite was named in honor of the indigenous Ngunnawal people of Australia’s capital, Canberra. Djara is a Ngunnawal word for stars, the company said. (Source: Reuters)
13 Oct 20. UK space sector survey – Size and Health 2020. The ‘Size and Health of the UK space industry’ survey – the primary source of evidence used to track growth in the sector – opens today. In 2020, the survey will be carried out by know.space on behalf of the UK Space Agency, and is now open to responses from space sector organisations across the UK.
Please fill out the survey here https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/SizeAndHealth2020/
The results from the 2018 survey demonstrated significant growth in income, exports and employment, and indirect benefits of satellite services to other industrial sectors worth £300bn of UK GDP.
In response to the challenges facing the sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 survey represents a ‘light touch’ update of this long-running series. All information provided will be treated in the strictest confidence, and only aggregate anonymised information will be published.
If you have any queries about the survey please contact Greg Sadlier at know.space () or Alex Leudar at the UK Space Agency (). (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
14 Oct 20. SPRINT Partners with Cyient to Facilitate Collaboration with UK Academic Institutions and Small Businesses for Major Projects in Space Data and Technologies . Cyient, a global digital engineering and technology company, and SPRINT (Space Research and Innovation Network for Technology), a UK based business innovation support programme, has announced its strategic partnership to accelerate the innovation in the UK space sector and to strengthen the mutual focus on industry collaboration.
SPRINT (Space Research and Innovation Network for Technology) provides businesses in the UK with funded access to universities with space expertise and facilities. This enables Enterprises to accelerate their innovative product development lifecycles. The partnership will enable Cyient to identify new business opportunities, to lower its product development costs and to offer cutting edge geospatial solutions with higher precision. The partnership will also assist Cyient in accessing industry experts from various academic institutions and SMEs across the UK for collaborative space data and technology projects.
Commenting on the strategic partnership, Mr. Matt Wood, Director of Sales for Geospatial at Cyient, said, “As a business, we are focused on innovation and developing skill sets and expertise in areas such as geospatial data creation and analysis, earth observation data, and machine learning algorithms. To enable us to evolve our business, an academic and commercial partnership is a natural fit. So, the new partnership with SPRINT will allow us to strike up a dialogue with academic institutions and SMEs in SPRINT’s network, and gain access to their cutting-edge technology, skill sets, and expertise for potential collaborations.”
“Working with Cyient will help the company achieve its business growth strategies through collaborations with academic establishments and businesses within the SPRINT network. It will also help SPRINT succeed with our vision of growing a vibrant and sustainable UK space ecosystem through collaborations and partnerships,” commented Mr. Ross Burgon, Head of the National SPRINT programme.
Cyient (Estd: 1991, NSE: CYIENT) is a global digital engineering and technology company. As a Design, Build, and Maintain partner for leading organizations worldwide, Cyient takes solution ownership across the value chain to help customers focus on their core, innovate, and stay ahead of the curve. The company leverages digital technologies, advanced analytics capabilities, domain knowledge, and technical expertise to solve complex business problems.
Cyient partners with customers to operate as part of their extended team in ways that best suit their organization’s culture and requirements. Cyient’s industry focus includes aerospace and defense, healthcare, telecommunications, rail transportation, semiconductor, geospatial, industrial, and energy.
For more information, please visit www.cyient.com.
Follow news about the company at @Cyient.
SPRINT is supported by Research England and the Scottish Funding Council. It is being delivered by a consortium of five of the UK’s leading space universities, led by the University of Leicester and including the University of Edinburgh, The Open University, University of Southampton and University of Surrey.
www.sprint.ac.uk (Source: PR Newswire)
13 Oct 20. UK and NASA sign international agreement ahead of mission to the Moon. The UK Space Agency, NASA and other partners have signed a historic agreement on principles for space ahead of a future mission to the Moon
NASA’s Artemis programme aims to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024. Commercial and international partners will collaborate to achieve a sustainable presence on the lunar surface as a steppingstone to the first human mission to Mars.
The UK will play a key role in this mission. Businesses across the UK will be involved in building the service module and habitation module of the Lunar Gateway, a new space station orbiting the moon, generating economic benefits and high-skilled jobs. The UK has already committed over £16m for the first phase of the design of these elements.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “The prospect of the first woman landing on the Moon in the coming years will be a source of inspiration for thousands of young people across the UK who may be considering a career in space or science. Today’s historic agreement, backed by £16m of UK funding, underlines our commitment to strengthening the UK’s role in the global space sector, building on our existing strengths in satellites, robotics and communications to grow our economy and improve life on Earth. With numerous countries and companies conducting operations in space it is vital to establish a set of principles to govern the civil exploration and use of outer space.”
The US worked with the UK, along with other spacefaring nations including Japan, Australia, Canada, Italy and the UAE, to develop the Artemis Accords, a set of principles to ensure a shared understanding of safe operations, use of space resources, minimising space debris and sharing scientific data.
James Cleverly, Minister for Defence and International Security at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, said:
By signing the Artemis Accords, the UK is joining international partners to agree a common set of principles which will guide space exploration for years to come. This ground-breaking agreement will guide how states should operate in space, as envisaged in the Outer Space Treaty.
The UK is at the forefront of international collaboration to explore and preserve outer space for future generations. We’re committed to keeping space – and the crucial space systems upon which our societies depend – safe and secure, by launching a landmark UN resolution to agree responsible behaviour for operating in space.
While NASA is leading the Artemis programme, international partnerships with countries including the UK will play a key role in achieving a safe and sustainable human presence on the Moon.
UK Space Agency CEO Graham Turnock, who signed the Artemis Accords during a virtual ceremony at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), said:
Signing the Accords is a strong signal of our intent to take a leading global role in civil space. We hope to deepen our relationship with the US when it comes to space and enhance the UK’s global influence in the space sector.
This exciting step could open up new opportunities for UK companies and scientists to be part of NASA missions to the Moon and Mars.
International cooperation on Artemis is intended not only to bolster space exploration but to enhance peaceful relationships between nations. At the core of the Artemis Accords is the requirement that all activities will be conducted for peaceful purposes, in line with the Outer Space Treaty.
Sustaining human life for long periods of time on space missions is a significant challenge and one that requires resources such as water, building materials and fuel. As transporting these resources into space is expensive, a key enabler of future missions will be the ability to extract and use resources from the Moon, asteroids or Mars. The UK has worked with international partners to ensure the Artemis Accords are clear that any such resource extraction in space should be carried out in a manner that complies with the Outer Space Treaty. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
12 Oct 20. Satellites played had a starring role at Project Convergence. To put it bluntly, the U.S. Army is not exactly known for its space savviness. However, as the Army gears up for combat with near-peer competitors, it’s doing its best to leverage new space capabilities to improve its targeting and networks, greatly expanding the range it can fire at enemies effectively. And at Project Convergence 20, the service got its first high profile opportunity to show off what it can do with emergent tactical space capabilities.
Project Convergence is the first iteration of the Army’s new “campaign of learning,” an effort to bring together the most cutting edge technologies, connect them together with an advanced battlefield network, and extend their ability to hit beyond-line-of-sight targets with confidence. During six weeks in the blazing Arizona heat at Yuma Proving Ground, the Army ran through dozens of scenarios, linking weapons systems and sensors together, applying artificial intelligence to detect and target threats, and using a developmental network to expand the battlefield.
Perhaps most importantly, Army’s Futures Command was able to show how new tactical space capabilities can transform the battlefield.
Three key technologies are driving this change. First are the satellites that can take detailed photos of the battlefield. Second are the developmental ground station and artificial intelligence system that receives those images, processes them, and turns them into targeting data. And third are the tactical communications satellites that take that data and transfer it across the country to the weapon systems that will fire on the target.
At Project Convergence, leaders focused on “that ability to request data, bring that data directly back down into theater, very rapidly process that data, you know, finding threats in those images or within that data set,” Willie Nelson, director of Army Futures Command’s Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing Cross-Functional Team, told C4ISRNET following the exercise.
This transformation is only possible due to the growing prevalence of satellites operating in low Earth orbit.
“For decades now, the military — not just the Army by itself, but the military generally — has been dependent on geosynchronous Earth orbit satellites, or GEO satellites,” a member of the Network Cross Functional Team told Army Sec. Ryan McCarthy in Yuma. “Today, we have commercial satellites in constellations that are at the mid Earth orbit level and the low Earth orbit level, or MEO and LEO. This is a difference between 22,000 miles for the GEO satellites, 5,000 miles altitude for the MEO satellites, and only 320 miles for the LEO satellites.”
Naturally, it’s far cheaper to send a satellite to LEO than to GEO — which has led to an explosion of new small satellites being launched into orbit. Instead of launching five or six massive, expensive satellites into GEO, companies can create huge constellations of small, cheap satellites in LEO to much the same effect. Some of those constellations — think SpaceX’s Starlink and OneWeb – already have hundreds of satellites on orbit.
As those commercial capabilities mature, the Army is keen to leverage them for their own efforts. Instead of using space solely for strategic capabilities, the LEO constellations are opening up a new world of tactical space, on orbit capabilities that can immediately react to and affect what’s happening on the battlefield.
The APNT CFT got its first real crack at the apple this spring, when they used satellites and a TITAN surrogate for live fire exercises in Germany. A plan to conduct more exercises later in the Pacific was cancelled due to precautions over COVID-19.
However successful that exercise was, and it appeared to go well, it did not have the same level of support and attention as Project Convergence.
“Working very heavily with our mission partners and with commercial providers, we had probably the most robust … support,” said Nelson. “Frankly, I’ve been at this for different types of things for almost 30 years, and I probably would go on the record to say I’ve never seen the interaction and the level of support from our mission partners from across the gamut–You name it, NRO NGA, commercial–like I’ve never seen before. And I think that’s, quite frankly, a testament to the leadership in each of those organizations.”
“I deal with the senior-most folks in those organizations, and they are all so committed to making this tactical space layer work,” he added. “And it’s more than just words, they showed it”
Here is a simplified explanation of the sensor-to-shooter chain used at Project Convergence:
- A satellite takes images of the battlefield.
- A TITAN surrogate ground station receives those images.
- There, the Prometheus AI system processes the images, detects threats and transforms it into targeting data.
- The targeting data is sent from TITAN to Yuma via satellite communications.
- At Yuma, the targeting data is populated in the Tactical Assault Kit software.
- The FIRESTORM AI system recommends which fires solution should respond to the threat.
- A human operator approves the recommendation, and targeting data is sent to the weapon system or soldier to respond.
Nelson’s team and their partners were able to run through that chain 350 times during Project Convergence.
“We found the threat rapidly. We were able to identify it as the real threat. We were able to put hit-grade coordinates on it in very near real time, and then digitally send that from the TITAN surrogate unit at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington State, down to the firing units that were located down at Yuma via tactical satellite communications. And all of that happened within seconds,” explained Nelson.
“We didn’t get lucky. We didn’t do a trick shot. We got the procedures down,” he added. “We got the tactics, techniques and procedures and CONOPS down. We were actually able to perfect this and get it down to the point where we’re able to repeat that. Again, literally over 350 different mission threads were run over the course of six weeks.”
Here’s a breakdown of each step.
The whole chain starts in space, where satellites take images of the battlefield.
While Nelson said he was not at liberty to share exactly which satellites were used during the experiments, he said they were able to tap into some national capabilities as well as some commercial constellations over the six weeks.
“What I can tell you is, it was a good teaming aspect in the fact that it wasn’t just government systems,” he said. “And it wasn’t just commercial. It was a blend of both.”
On the commercial side, the Army sees value in leveraging on orbit capabilities that have a commercial sector business that can sustain them, bringing down prices for when the military wants to use them. Nelson pointed to BlackSky, Planet Labs, Maxar’s Worlview, and Hawkeye 360 as examples of companies with LEO GEOINT capabilities that the Army could potentially tap into.
“To some extent, I can say they were involved in some of this testing, and will continue to be more and more involved in our continued campaign of learning,” said Nelson.
TITAN and Prometheus
Once the images were taken, they were downlinked to a Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node (TITAN) surrogate located at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington State. TITAN is a scalable ground system being developed by the army that will be able to downlink data from multi-domain sensors, fuse it and transform it into targeting data for weapon systems.
The Defense Innovation Unit has tapped Northrop Grumman to build two TITAN prototypes, which will be used for exercises starting in 2022 and 2023. Until then, the Army is using a TITAN surrogate that can essentially perform the same functions in the sensor to shooter chain.
Once TITAN has the images, it uses an artificial intelligence system called Prometheus to process them, detect threats and transform it into targeting data.
Army leadership–including McCarthy–admitted that AI applications like Prometheus are still brittle, but they will only grow stronger as they are fed more data.
“I’m very, very pleased with the progress Prometheus is making — proud of the team and what they were able to demonstrate,” Nelson said. “But I think what you’re probably hearing — and it’s a fair comment — is we truly have a ways to go to train algorithms to detect any target, or any threat.”
While it might seem strange to have the TITAN surrogate located hundreds of miles from the action in Yuma, Nelson pointed out that is similar to how it could be used in the future.
“In many cases, you won’t have a TITAN – at least not initially — co-located with every fires battalion in the field,” he explained. “And so there will be some degree of centralization of that TITAN data at some echelon, and then you’ll need to push that data either in most likely through SATCOM like we demonstrated — some distance (from) the actual shooters.”
SATCOM and the SDA
So how does the data get from TITAN to the battlefield?
During Project Convergence, the Army was able to use satellite communications to send that targeting data hundreds of miles in just seconds. In some instances, they were even able to use new commercial LEO constellations.
“I don’t want to steal (the Network CFT’s) thunder on this, but I’ll put a plug in for them. So part of the experiment was, we use the traditional MILSATCOM military satellite communications capability to get the data down from Washington to Arizona,” explained Nelson. “But we also had some excursions with some commercial LEO and MEO commercial capabilities. And we’re very impressed with the high bandwidth throughput and low latency that they were able to provide back. We did several excursions with some of those commercial provided satellite communication capabilities.”
A Network CFT official at Yuma specifically noted that they were able to use SpaceX’s Starlink for the experiment. That constellation has approximately 600 satellites available in their constellation, and it will reach persistent global coverage at 4,500.
“Once we get to 4,500 satellites in the next year to two years, we will have global coverage with LEO,” he explained. “Now, LEO satellites being so much closer, severely, dramatically reduces the latency that is inherent in satellite communications. It increases the throughput or transport that we can have for more data. And because of the smaller form factor such as this LEO terminal here and the MEO terminal, we can get more points of presence on the battlefield and closer to the tactical edge.”
While the constellation is still “somewhat immature,” the Army should have more capacity to experiment at Project Convergence 2021, when they expect the commercial constellation to have 24/7 coverage of North America.
The Army experimented with a commercial LEO capability during Project Convergence, but the Department of Defense is developing its own space-based mesh network that will be able to perform the same types of tasks.
The Space Development Agency was established in 2019 to build the government its own proliferated LEO constellation. It will eventually be made up of hundreds of satellites performing a whole host of tasks, including data transport, detecting and tracking hypersonic weapons, providing beyond-line-of-sight targeting, space domain awareness and much more.
The glue connecting those carrying capabilities is the transport layer–a series of satellites connected by optical intersatellite links to form a space-based mesh network. Like the commercial constellations used during Project Convergence, the transport layer will be able to transport tactical data around the globe in seconds, connecting sensors and shooters at blazing speeds.
Still, the agency does not have any satellites on orbit yet. SDA ordered its inaugural 20 transport layer satellites from York Space Systems and Lockheed Martin in August, with plans for them to be launched into orbit in 2022. The agency will then add more and more satellites with increasing capabilities in two year tranches as part of their spiral development approach–they expect to have hundreds of satellites on orbit in 2026.
“Army Futures Command and (Army Space and Missile Defense Command) are partnered very very closely with SDA,” SDA Director Derek Tournear told C4ISRNET. “We didn’t have any hardware to bring to bear for the Project Convergence demo and test, but we will in the future.”
In the future, the transport layer will be able to route targeting data to the war fighter directly through a Link-16 tactical data link, pass it through a ground station like TITAN, or other solutions being developed by the U.S. Air Force and Navy.
“Our plan is always tied to what the Army is doing, primarily with the TITAN ground system,” he added.
As Tournear has noted previously, the transport layer will be the space-based network component of the Pentagon’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control concept–connecting the services together with satellites.
FIRESTORM and SHOT
The final piece of the chain is another artificial intelligence capability: FIRES Synchronization to Optimize Responses in Multi-Domain Operations, or FIRESTORM.
“What is FIRESTORM? Simply put it’s a computer brain that recommends the best shooter, updates the common operating picture with the current enemy situation, and friendly situation, admissions the effectors that we want to eradicate the enemy on the battlefield,” said Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of Army Futures Command’s Next Generation Combat Vehicle CFT and the lead Army official on the ground for Project Convergence.
Simply put, FIRESTORM can take the targeting data produced by Prometheus, look at the forces available on the battlefield, and recommend the best weapon system to respond to the threat.
Nelson added that the Army is also developing a similar AI capability known by the acronym SHOT. Whereas FIRESTORM is effective in choosing the best weapon for short range fires, SHOT will perform the same task for long range precision fires, he explained.
“What we learned in this experiment was there’s a lot of goodness by both programs,” said Nelson. “And we’re gonna have to look at that and figure out, is it right to have two separate (programs)? Are there enough similarities or enough differences to support two different types of programs, or they should they come together? And that’s far from a decision right now.”
Improving the pipeline
With Prometheus, TITAN, the on orbit sensors and SATCOM, the Army was able to cut down the sensor to shooter timeline from 20 minutes to 20 seconds.
“That’s not an automatic kind of thing. It’s not just a drag and drop–‘Hey, you know, I see something here, let me put a hit grid on it and give it to somebody to shoot at it.’ That actually takes quite a while in today’s technologies,” said Nelson. “But what we were able to prove is we were able to streamline that and do it digitally.”
But the work is not done.
“So our plan now is to pick up in an FYI 21 campaign of learning–we plan to go back to Europe, again, begin to flesh out these TPPs and CONOPS and get them codified soo these become repeatable capabilities, not just some futuristic experiment,” said Nelson. “And you’ll see some more capability brought to bear at Project Convergence 21.”
Project Converge was an opportunity for the APNT team to nail down the sensor to shooter chain, proving it in harsh conditions with lots of interlocking parts. But it was also a chance for them to demonstrate the value of tactical space to other Army leaders.
“I can tell you with confidence, there isn’t a person in the Army now who doesn’t understand or isn’t able to appreciate the capability that this deep sensing capability from space provides now,” said Nelson. “There’s not a dry eye in the room when you look at how fast we can rapidly find threats and get those to shooters.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
12 Oct 20. Australian DoD announces FOC of new satellite ground station. The Australian Department of Defence (DOD) has announced the final operating capability (FOC) of a new satellite ground station.
The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) has announced the final operating capability (FOC) of a new satellite ground station.
Located near Geraldton in Western Australia, the station has commenced operations.
This marks a major milestone in the government’s plans to boost the satellite capability of the country.
Named Satellite Ground Station – West, the station was delivered under the Joint Project 2008 Phase 3F along with BAE Systems Australia.
In order to significantly improve Australian Defence Force communications capability, Australia entered a partnership with the US in 2007 to gain assured access to the Wideband Global Satellite (WGS) Communications System.
It is expected to offer anchoring capability to WGS Communications satellites situated over the Indian Ocean.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said that the new station is one of the three defence satellite ground station projects to be completed.
Reynolds said: “The Defence Satellite Communications Program is providing the Australian Defence Force with a suite of strategic and tactical satellite communication capabilities.
“Satellite Ground Station – West will provide Defence with greater access to the overall capacity available from Wideband Global Satellite-Communications satellites.
“This offers real-time operational and logistical information, which is essential for command and control of deployed forces.”
In May, the Australian DoD’s Defence Science and Technology signed a new strategic agreement with Gold Coast company Gilmour Space Technologies to work on space technologies. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
05 Oct 20. NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Plan — Request for Information (RFI). NASA/Ames Research Center (ARC) on behalf of the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s (STMD) Small Spacecraft Technology (SST) Program, is hereby soliciting information from potential sources for inputs on the desired future states / mini design reference capabilities (called “Outcomes”) and the associated “Technology Gaps” that need to be closed to achieve those “Outcomes” that are listed in NASA STMD’s Small Spacecraft Technology Plan.
An overview in presentation format of this plan along with the “Outcomes” and “Technology Gaps” can be download from the attachment: .
NASA is pursuing rapid identification, development, and testing of capabilities that exploit agile spacecraft platforms and responsive launch capabilities to increase the pace of space exploration, scientific discovery, and the expansion of space commerce. These emerging capabilities have the potential to enable new mission architectures, enhance conventional missions, and promote development and deployment on faster timelines. This will, in turn, allow NASA to achieve its objectives at significantly lower programmatic risk and cost than traditional approaches.
NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Plan is largely focused on technology gaps for smallsats that use standardized form factors, interchangeable commercial components, and can be batch produced. Small spacecraft and responsive launch capabilities are proving to be disruptive innovations for exploration, discovery, and commercial applications. As these innovations move up market to larger platforms, further technology and capability investment will be needed to meet upcoming mission needs while keeping overall costs low, mission cadence high, and retaining the agile aerospace approach that has fueled what has been termed the “smallsat revolution.”
- Are there capabilities or technologies that are missing or have not been adequately considered in the Technology Plan (aka “Outcomes” and “Technology Gaps”) that could significantly contribute to the development of small spacecraft to enable science and exploration missions for NASA?
- Are the priorities in the Technology Plan appropriate for the goals stated?
- If not, which should have higher priority and why? Provide examples of known technologies or technologies/systems in development that could contribute to the elimination of the “Technology Gaps” or accomplishment of the stated “Outcomes”. Do not include any proprietary or sensitive information.
NASA/ARC is seeking input statements from all interested parties, including all socioeconomic categories of Small Businesses and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)/Minority Institutions (MI), for the purposes of developing and implementing this Technology Plan.
Response to this RFI is voluntary. Each individual or institution is requested to submit only one response. Submission must be in 12 point or larger font and not exceed 5 pages, with a page number provided on each page. Responses should include the name of the person(s) or organization(s) filing the comment. Comments containing references, studies, research, and other empirical data that are not widely published should include copies or electronic links of the referenced materials.
All responses shall be submitted electronically via email to no later than November 13 at 5:00 p.m., PST.
No business proprietary information, copyrighted information, or personally identifiable information should be submitted in response to this RFI.
In accordance with FAR 15.202(3), responses to this notice are not offers and cannot be accepted by the Federal Government to form a binding contract. Additionally, those submitting responses are solely responsible for all expenses associated with response preparation.
No solicitation exists; therefore, do not request a copy of the solicitation.
Vendors having the capabilities necessary to meet or exceed the stated requirements are invited to submit appropriate documentation, literature, brochures, and references.
This synopsis is for information and planning purposes only and is not to be construed as a commitment by the Government, nor will the Government pay for information solicited. Respondents will not be notified of the results of the evaluation. (Source: Satnews)
08 Oct 20. Globalstar Deploys 1,200+ SPOT Gen3 and SmartOne IoT Solar Devices To Humanitarian Organizations. Globalstar Europe Satellite Services Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Globalstar Inc. (NYSE MKT: GSAT), has announced that Traksat has deployed more than 1,200 Globalstar-enabled safety and tracking devices for humanitarian organizations across the globe.
NGO Humanity & Inclusion (HI) is deploying SPOT Gen3 satellite messengers and SmartOne Solar IoT tracking devices to protect relief workers and support operations in several African nations, as well as in South America. International Rescue Committee, headquartered in New York, uses SPOT Gen3s in numerous African countries to safeguard and track relief workers. ACTED is similarly using SPOT Gen3s in Niger.
Traksat reports a dramatic uptake of its NGO-centric solution with Globalstar technology as its backbone. The number of Traksat-provided Globalstar devices being used to support humanitarian efforts has doubled in the last 12 months.
In Traksat’s longest-standing project, more than 250 devices enabled by Globalstar satellite technology are providing staff security and supporting vehicle management for Humanity & Inclusion’s humanitarian workers in DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), CAR (Central African Republic), Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, as well as in Colombia.
With global headquarters in Lyon, France, and currently ranked as the world’s 12th largest NGO, Nobel-Prize winner HI (formerly known as Handicap International) is an independent organisation that operates in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster, supporting disabled and vulnerable people to help them meet their basic needs, improve living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights.
HI is equipping staff with SPOT Gen3s so that they can stay connected with their colleagues while working in locations where alternative communications networks are inadequate. In an emergency, a simple press of SPOT’s SOS button immediately raises an alert and instantly sends the user’s GPS location to HI’s central operations centre and local coordination sites, from where a rescue can be initiated.
Traksat has developed a specialist software platform with extensive options to meet the particular needs of NGOs and government agencies. With the combination of Globalstar technology, enabled by its fleet of Low-Earth Orbit satellites, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the Traksat platform, NGOs can benefit from a wide range of capabilities to support worker safety and other operational requirements.
Over 10 different mapping options can be chosen with Traksat, along with specific map layers with additional live detail on traffic, wind, weather and occurrence of natural disasters.
Geo-fencing options include alerts when two or more trackers are in the same predefined radius or when one tracker is moving away from the others. This is particularly useful to secure a convoy of cars, for example, or get a notification when a group of people are gathering at the same location. The system can also raise an alert should the user inadvertently travel beyond a pre-designated area.
HI’s security teams can keep a watchful eye on its crews: Should tracking suggest something might be wrong, security and contact protocols are initiated, and if needed, rescuers know exactly where to go thanks to the system’s instant and accurate positioning information.
Where situation-appropriate, low-energy, low maintenance SmartOne Solar units are fitted to vehicles via simple cabling to enable reliable IoT tracking.
“Globalstar technology and expert support from Traksat together play a big part in helping us meet our security and fleet management challenges,” said Emmanuel Bertolus, Logistics Manager at Humanity & Inclusion. “Our teams work in extremely varied and challenging contexts. Reliable, economical Globalstar technology, together with the wide-ranging expertise and responsiveness of Traksat, help us to consider geolocation as a key operational asset and never as a constraint. SPOT is exceptionally easy to use. It’s also very small, rugged, and discreet, and has a long battery life, so we get the reliable tracking and reach we need all in this simple, economical package.”
“Workers in NGOs such as HI often face desperate situations as they deliver support and emergency relief around the world,” says Pierre Laporte, Traksat Founder and Managing Director. “Providing these incredibly dedicated people with reliable, powerful technology that helps them stay safe and operate more efficiently, while we continuously innovate to deliver more new capabilities, is a role and a commitment we take very seriously. Even to install simple tracking devices in vehicles requires a certain level of installer competence and this is something that simply can’t always be guaranteed in some remote regions. SPOT, on the other hand, needs only a few minutes to set up and it’s ready to use.”
“We are extremely proud to work with Traksat to support Humanity and Inclusion’s workers, and those at other NGOs, as they strive to help communities devastated by crises, both natural and man-made,” commented Mark O’Connell, Globalstar EMEA General Manager. (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.