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22 Oct 20. Space Force Leader Charts Service’s Galactic Mission. The chief of space operations and commander of U.S. Space Command discussed challenges the U.S. is facing in space and the Space Force’s efforts to address them.
Space Force Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, provided remarks from the Pentagon today at the virtual Air Force Rapid Sustainment Office Advanced Manufacturing Olympics today.
“A war that begins or extends into space will be fought over great distances at tremendous speeds, posing significant challenges,” said Raymond, noting Great Power competition with Russia and China, outlined in the National Defense Strategy, which could pose future challenges.
Spacecom’s area of responsibility extends from 100 kilometers above Earth’s surface to the outer edge of the universe, he noted.
On-orbit capabilities move at speeds greater than 17,500 miles per hour. Direct ascent and satellite missiles can reach low-Earth orbit in a matter of minutes, Raymond said. Electronic attack and directed-energy weapons move at the speed of light.
In response, Raymond provided a galactic roadmap to what his service is doing. He said his guidance to Space Force’s space professionals at all levels is to be bold, innovative; use the outstanding talent the service has; and be lean, agile and fast.
“Since establishment, we have slashed bureaucracy, delegated authority and enhanced accountability,” he said.
The Space Force is working with industry, both big and small, and academia to find the “disruptive innovators and incubators for change,” he remarked.
Today our space capabilities are, by far, the best in the world, he said, but they were built for an uncontested domain.
The U.S. needs a more defensible architecture, he said, and one that is equipped for offensive operations should deterrence fail.
The challenge is that all of this capability has to come at an affordable price, he added.
Advanced manufacturing is rapidly transforming the way space capabilities are designed and delivered, he said, meaning that these could soon be affordable for the department.
Spacecraft fuel tanks, antennas, structures and engines are already being produced via techniques with materials uniquely tailored for space, Raymond said. “These technologies allow us to move rapidly from capability design to prototyping.”
Raymond mentioned that America is a spacefaring nation and has long led military, civil and commercial space centers. “Today, we’re entering a defining period for this country in space. Our nation is leading an expansive spirit of space exploration and experimentation. And we are strongest when space is secure, stable and accessible to enterprising Americans for scientific, economic and security interests.” (Source: US DoD)
22 Oct 20. Space Force establishes the first of three field commands. The U.S. Space Force officially has its first field command, after the service redesignated Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado as the new headquarters of Space Operations Command during an Oct. 21 ceremony.
“The establishment of Space Operations Command adds powerful depth to our collective space combat capability,” said Gen. James Dickinson, head of U.S. Space Command “Make no mistake, we are the best in the world in space. With the stand up of Space Operations Command today, we are even better aligned to deliver combat power more effectively.”
Space Operations Command (SpOC) is one of three field commands — alongside Space Systems Command and the Space Training and Readiness Command — the Space Force is establishing. Space Systems Command will be in charge of developing, acquiring and sustaining systems for the service, while Space Training and Readiness Command will provide training and education to the service’s space professionals.
SpOC oversees the operations of the nation’s military satellites. It’s portfolio includes the GPS constellation, missile warning satellites and the various communications satellites that provide war fighters with global connectivity. SpOC is also the Space Force’s service component to U.S. Space Command, ensuring that the 11th combatant command can utilize the services broad array of on orbit platforms.
Shortly after the Space Force was established in Dec. 2019, the 14th Air Force was redesignated as Space Operations Command.
With the new designation of Peterson AFB as SpOC headquarters, the former home of the command, Vandenberg AFB, was activated as SpOC West. SpOC West will retain its mission as U.S. Space Command’s Combined Force Space Component Command, where it provides space war fighting support to the combatant commanders, joint force and coalition partners.
Newly promoted Gen. Stephen N. Whiting, who has been serving as the deputy commander of Space Force headquarters, will lead the new command.
“He is the right leader to become the first commander of the Space Operations Command field command and to accelerate the transformation of space operations,” said Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond at the ceremony. “Gen. Whiting has mastered command at nearly every echelon, from the 13th Space Warning Squadron in Clear, Alaska, to the 21st Space Wing here at Peterson, to our first commander of the Combined Force Space Component Command.”
Raymond also credited Whiting and his team with standing up the provisional headquarters for U.S. Space Command, the recently reestablished 11th combatant command, and developing the Space Force’s first doctrine: Space Power.
“At this pivotal moment in history, I can think of no more consequential place to serve than in Space Operations Command as we do our part to build our new service while providing our combatant command the majority of the tools it needs to ensure the protection and defense of the United States and allied interests in space,” said Whiting. (Source: Defense News)
23 Oct 20. US Navy Research Lab to support Space Development Agency satellite interoperability. A team of researchers from the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) will use its background in space system development to support the Space Development Agency (SDA) ensure future satellites have the capability to work together.
The US Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL) work supports the Space Development Agency’s (SDA) two multimillion-dollar contract awards for the development of the first generation of the Transport Layer, representing the first major and highly-visible step towards developing the National Defense Space Architecture’s inaugural tranche, Tranche Zero.
SDA is relying on NRL to build out a hardware-in-the-loop, software-in-the-loop (HIL/SIL) testbed that will be the gold standard for validating the interoperability of multiple satellites via Optical Intersatellite Links (OISL). SDA’s satellites will be developed by two separate vendors and equipped with OISL technology to enable the sending and receiving of wideband data from one space vehicle to another and between space vehicles and ground stations.
SDA director Derek Tournear explained, “The Space Development Agency appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with NRL on this important part of the process to develop the National Defense Space Architecture.
“NRL’s work will enable us to launch Transport satellites with much higher confidence that the components we’ve sourced and the integration we’ve done on the ground will work in space. This will allow us to deliver needed capabilities to the warfighter at greater speed than has been achieved in the past.”
HIL/SIL simulation is a technique used in the development and testing of complex, real-time embedded systems and is an effective test platform to validate all vendors’ satellite buses and optical links are interoperable. NRL is doing this on behalf of the government to demonstrate interoperability before launching satellites to avoid discovering compatibility or integration issues post-launch.
NRL program manager Aaron Chilbert added, “Our role is to help ensure the interoperability of these transport satellites so they can meet their mission requirements in a timely manner without any issues of compatibility, latency, or otherwise. It’s all about moving data fast and making sure it gets to the people that need it.”
The NRL’s work helps SDA ensure joint warfighters have new, resilient methods of delivering time-critical information they need in diverse global environments.
Mark Johnson, NRL acting superintendent, Spacecraft Engineering Division, expanded on the comments made by Chilbert, adding, “Joint warfighters require space and space systems to meet their needs, with everything from weather, communications at sea, to situational awareness, position, navigation and timing.
“The next generation of space activities where there are large numbers of network, with smaller satellites, is going to be extremely important to the warfighter, and NRL can certainly help in getting it fielded quickly. Providing that technical support from the laboratory to the Space Development Agency will help [SDA] field that technology in an integrated fashion,” Johnson added.
TheNRL is a scientific and engineering command dedicated to research that drives innovative advances for the Navy and Marine Corps from the seafloor to space and in the information domain. NRL is located in Washington, DC, with major field sites in Stennis Space Centre, Mississippi; Key West, Florida; and Monterey, California, and employs approximately 2,500 civilian scientists, engineers and support personnel.
The SDA, established on 12 March 2019, is the DoD organisation responsible for creating and sustaining lethal, resilient, threat-driven, and affordable military space capabilities, primarily in low Earth orbit, to provide persistent, resilient, low-latency surveillance to deter or defeat adversaries.
SDA is focused on orchestrating the development and fielding of DoD’s future National Defense Space Architecture using novel approaches to accelerate the military space capabilities necessary to ensure US technological and military advantage in space for national defence. (Source: Space Connect)
22 Oct 20. Shetland spaceport boosts UK’s plans for launch. UK strengthens position as European small satellite launch destination of choice.
- Lockheed Martin to develop UK launch operations from Shetland Space Centre on the island of Unst.
- Orbex and Highlands and Islands Enterprise continue to advance launch plans from Space Hub Sutherland.
Hundreds of space jobs will be created in Scotland following the approval of plans for Lockheed Martin to transfer its satellite launch operations to Shetland Space Centre by the UK government.
Shetland Space Centre anticipates that by 2024, the spaceport site could support a total of 605 jobs in Scotland including 140 locally and 210 across the wider Shetland region. A further 150 jobs will also be created through wider manufacturing and support services.
Following a thorough process of due diligence, the UK Space Agency has confirmed that Lockheed Martin’s plans to move its UK Pathfinder Launch to the Shetland site at Lamba Ness on Unst would continue to deliver long-term value and help establish a sustainable, commercial launch market as part of the UK’s spaceflight programme – LaunchUK.
Lockheed Martin is in discussions with a preferred partner to provide launch services for its UK Pathfinder Launch, which would take place from Shetland Space Centre.
UK Government Amanda Solloway, Science Minister, said:
We want the UK to be the best place in Europe to launch satellites, attracting innovative businesses from all over the world and creating hundreds of high-skilled jobs.
The potential to have multiple spaceports in Scotland demonstrates the scale of our ambition, and I want to support industry by pressing ahead with our plans during this challenging time.
This government is committed to backing our growing space sector, developing a comprehensive space strategy and supporting transformative technologies that will benefit people and businesses across the country.
UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said:
The UK Government is committed to cementing the UK’s position as a global leader in the space sector. The creation of the Shetland Space Centre is incredibly exciting news and a real boost for the local economy.
Our investment in Scottish spaceports is creating hundreds of secure and skilled jobs for people in Scotland.
The Shetland Space Centre a huge step forward for our ambitious UK Spaceflight programme.
Just as an airport can handle a range of different airlines and aircraft, Space Hub Sutherland has been designed as a multi-user site able to cater for the needs of multiple launch providers. This ensures it will be able to continue to compete for a wide range of exciting vertical launch opportunities.
The UK Space Agency will also continue to fully support Space Hub Sutherland through grant funding to Highlands and Islands Enterprise to develop the spaceport infrastructure and to UK-based launch partner, Orbex, to prepare its innovative Prime rocket to launch from the site in 2022.
An economic assessment of the Spaceport Sutherland site reported in 2019 that the site is due to create over 60 high-skilled jobs in Sutherland and Caithness, and 250 jobs in the wider area.
Ivan McKee, Scottish Government Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation said: “This is an extremely exciting time for the emerging space sector globally, and Scotland is situated at the very forefront of this. The transfer of Lockheed Martin’s UK pathfinder satellite launch to Shetland Space Centre will enhance Scotland’s existing vertical launch capability and enable us to target a wider market base through a complementary offer across multiple spaceports. This will provide an economic boost not only to the Shetland Isles but also maximise the commercial opportunity across the wider region, with Highlands and Islands Enterprise leading the delivery of Space Hub Sutherland alongside Scottish-based launch partner, Orbex.”
Developing domestic spaceflight capabilities will play a key role in levelling up the UK economy, driving investment, fostering growth and creating new jobs.
Scotland is already home to some of the world’s most innovative satellite manufacturers, and its ability to host complementary launch sites puts the UK firmly on the map as Europe’s leading small satellite launch destination.
The economic benefits of launch will be shared across the Highlands and Islands region and both Space Hub Sutherland and Shetland Space Centre have already attracted significant commercial interest in their plans. In 2019, Orbex opened a rocket design and manufacturing facility in Forres, near Inverness, which is anticipated to bring 130 highly-skilled jobs to the region.
Nik Smith, UK Country Executive at Lockheed Martin said:
The UK has a vibrant space sector, which can stimulate the national as well as regional economies. As a long-standing strategic partner to the UK, Lockheed Martin is committed to building on its proud heritage to support the UK government’s role of growing capabilities in space, exciting imagination and advancing the frontiers of science.
From the outset our focus has been on realising the greatest economic benefit for the UK through the Spaceflight programme. The transfer of our UK spaceflight operations to Shetland will not only broaden launch options available in the UK, but also ensure the economic benefits of these endeavours are felt more widely.
Space has a significant role to play in generating economic growth, creating high-skilled jobs and tackling global challenges, from climate change to the spread of infectious diseases. The ability to launch small satellites for Earth observation and communications will boost UK efforts to tackle these challenges by providing valuable tools and data that can help analyse and predict impacts and support effective decisions and mitigation strategies.
The UK’s spaceflight programme – LaunchUK – is working with a range of additional partners to establish commercial vertical and horizontal small satellite launch from UK spaceports including Spaceport Cornwall and Virgin Orbit. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
22 Oct 20. Southern Launch to partner with German Aerospace Centre. Australian-based Southern Launch has expanded on the memorandum of understanding signed between the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and Southern Launch in March, with a co-operation agreement further enhancing the relationship.
The co-operation agreement aims to implement joint civilian research activities in the field of suborbital and orbital space launch, especially in the field of reusable launch vehicles (RLV). Working together on such activities is a major step towards further developing Southern Launch’s capabilities and launch sites to conduct safe and economically affordable rocket launches.
A notable spin-off from the agreement is that the organisations will work to establish an educational sounding rocket program in Australia, allowing universities to undertake space-based research projects from the southern hemisphere.
The signing of the agreement follows the successful launch of two space capable rockets by Southern Launch at the Koonibba Test Range, both completed on 19 September 2020.
Rainer Kirchhartz, head of DLR’s Mobile Rocket Base, said, “This co-operation unlocks flight testing potential that is not otherwise attainable through a joint effort by DLR and Southern Launch. It further strengthens and adds to Mobile Rocket Base’s co-operation with Australian research partners, adding to the growing collaboration of the two countries in space research and utilisation.”
DLR are looking into the feasibility of utilising Southern Launch’s Koonibba Test Range for the testing of new rocket technologies and launch equipment, in line with DLR’s efforts to research and develop future reusable launcher technologies – together DLR and Southern Launch are working towards a launch date of the first DLR research mission in mid-2022.
“We are very proud to be working with DLR on a number of rocket projects and look forward to contributing into an international space program such as DLR’s,” said Lloyd Damp, CEO of Southern Launch.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said the agreement showed the demand for launch within South Australia’s space industry.
“This collaboration is further evidence of South Australia’s attractiveness to international space companies, thanks to our thriving local space industry and proven ability to facilitate successful rocket launches from within the state,” Premier Marshall said.
DLR is the national aeronautics and space research centre of Germany. Its extensive research and development work in aeronautics, space, energy, transport, security and digitalisation is integrated into national and international co-operative ventures, at an institutional level, DLR is also responsible for the planning and implementation of Germany’s space activities on behalf of the federal government.
Premier Marshall added, “There has never been a better time to be involved in the space industry in this age of global space exploration and advancement, and South Australia is the best place to centre Australia’s global space endeavours.”
Southern Launch is a private Australian space launch services company headquartered in Adelaide, South Australia. Southern Launch evaluates, designs and operates rocket and UAV test ranges around the world, as well as providing launch service provision services to payload customers.
In South Australia, Southern Launch operate the Koonibba Test Range, a 145-kilometre-long sub-orbital range in the Australian outback, and are developing the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex (WWOLC) on the southern coastline of South Australia to address an identified emerging gap in the high inclination orbital rocket launch market. (Source: Space Connect)
21 Oct 20. Kleos Space Second Cluster Procurement Finalised with ISISpace.
- Contract for second cluster of four satellites for the Polar Vigilance Mission (KSF1) signed with Innovative Solutions in Space (ISISpace)
- ISISpace to provide full turnkey provision including:
o Satellite Build
o Test equipment
o Launch and Early Orbit phase support
- ISISpace to take equity in Kleos
- Polar Vigilance Mission to launch on SpaceX Falcon 9 mid 2021
- Increased global coverage – new orbit, broadening revenue opportunities
- First cluster (KSM1) launch targeted for 1st 2 weeks of November
Kleos Space S.A. (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1,) (Kleos or Company), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company advises that it has engaged The Netherlands based Innovative Solutions In Space B.V. (ISISpace), one of the leading companies in the nanosatellite field, to provide turnkey satellite build and support for the Kleos Space – Polar Vigilance Mission (KSF1) to launch mid 2021 on the SpaceX Falcon 9.
With 15 years of experience in providing turn-key small satellite missions, ISISpace is well placed to provide a reliable build and launch support for Kleos’s KSF1 cluster of four satellites. Their services will include design, development, production, testing, launch integration services and Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) support.
The contract price is 2.1m EUR and will be payable in milestone-based instalments over a period of approximately 10 months. ISISpace will receive approximately 10% of the contract value by way of Kleos CDIs, priced at the 5-day VWAP leading up to execution of the contract, with the balance to be paid in cash. The CDIs will be issued utilising the Company’s issuing capacity under Listing Rule 7.1. The delivery of the multi-nanosatellite system is planned to take place in Q2 2021.
In addition to its own data provision, the Kleos KSF1 Mission will enhance the capability of the Kleos Scouting Mission (KSM1) launching early November from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Chennai, India by allowing exploitation of combined data sets where orbital paths intersect (or are in close proximity).
Miles Ashcroft, CTO of Kleos Space said that “The KSF1 mission allows us to build on the experience gained throughout the KSM1 campaign. We are using that experience to put another cluster into operation making changes that increase the robustness of the mission without imparting any additional technical risk”.
The KSF1 mission specification benefits from:
- Propulsion – Use of electric propulsion technology facilitating more real estate for data collection hardware.
- Software Defined Radio – Additional tailoring to optimise data collection for proprietary geolocation algorithms improving resolution.
- Flight Software – Missions Operations processes being implemented to simplify secure and encrypted constellation growth.
- Downlink Chain – Onboard data handling and routing optimisation to increase capacity.
Andy Bowyer, CEO of Kleos Space, commented, “The launch of the second cluster will be the next step in building a constellation of up to 20 clusters, providing valuable insights within key locations of interest. ISISpace taking equity as partial consideration for the second cluster is a strong show of confidence in the Kleos business.”
Jeroen Rotteveel, CEO of ISISpace, confirmed that “being a strategic partner for Kleos to build and support their second cluster in line with the specification and schedule as required is exactly the kind of service and flexibility ISISpace can offer, understanding Kleos’ business model and needs for their future constellation.”
Andy Bowyer added ”The launch of the Polar Vigilance Mission means we take another step on that journey, collecting more data, over new areas opening additional markets whilst also providing a higher value product for our existing customer base.”
The Kleos business model is to create subscription-based revenues from the delivery of essential data to government and commercial entities around the globe. Kleos will be the first company to fly clusters of four satellites to accurately detect and locate the use of the RF spectrum by legitimate and illegitimate actors. The data is collected and downlinked from the satellites then processed through the Company’s proprietary algorithms. Once ‘packaged’ into data products and transferred to our licenced subscribers ‘as-a-service’, the same data can be sold unlimited times creating annuity type revenues.
The Company is confident in its ability to meet the payment obligations under the contract, as it has been exploring opportunities for additional external funding when required and is satisfied that it has a number of viable opportunities available to execute upon.
21 Oct 20. New space centres and modernised ground sites to support NATO space domain. To buttress its nascent operational domain of space, NATO is refurbishing four satellite ground stations across its territory and will soon approve a new space situational awareness centre in Germany, according to allied officials.
NATO has a total of seven ground station sites, but the four earmarked sites alone – in Belgium, Greece, Italy, and Turkey – “will double our current transmission capacity once they are in place”, said Kevin Scheid, general manager of the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCIA). He and other NCIA officials spoke to reporters during a 15 October press trip to visit the newest of the sites in Kester, 20 km west of Brussels.
Completely razed in 2014 and rebuilt with two 60 m diameter and two 11 m diameter radome-covered satellite transmission dishes, Kester received its site acceptance from contractor Selex ES, part of Leonardo, in November 2019. With its fibre-optic link to a nearby transmission tower, the site has direct line-of-sight communications for satellite data traffic to NATO headquarters in Brussels. It and other NATO ground station sites receive their data from four nations – France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States – under a EUR1.5bn (USD1.75bn) contract.
Similar to the other sites, Kester itself carries out no analysis or intelligence work, as it only forwards pre-encrypted data streams back and forth between users. Nevertheless, its turnaround response time for users is fast. Inside its air-locked operational centre, where satellite positioning is tracked for transmission purposes, it can reconfigure one of its modems for streaming encrypted data between two endpoints in roughly half an hour. (Source: Jane’s)
20 Oct 20. PacStar, SelectTech Geospatial LLC and R4 Integration, Inc. Ruggedize the C-130 Tactical Removable Airborne Satellite Communications (TRASC) System. Integrating PacStar 400-Series modules into the C-130 TRASC system addresses DoD challenge to deliver rugged mission essential Ku and Ka-band SATCOM on military aircraft.
PacStar®, SelectTech Geospatial LLC and R4 Integration, Inc. today announced a collaboration to integrate PacStar rugged networking components into the SelectTech C-130 TRASC system to provide roll-on/roll-off hatch-mount and permanent shoulder-mount X/Ku/Ka-band communications to the warfighter. As a result, military and commercial organizations with tactical and en-route communications needs can access secure networks over SATCOM in airborne use cases. The integrated solution is available immediately.
Today, organizations are challenged to meet high-bandwidth requirements on aerial platforms that support beyond line-of-sight capabilities. The combination of PacStar 400-Series tactical, ruggedized modules with the SelectTech/R4 Integration C-130 TRASC system delivers access to Ku and Ka-band SATCOM on military aircraft. The integrated solution unlocks SATCOM-on-the-Move for SOF (special operations forces) components and other military and government organizations, while enhancing situational awareness through faster data to warfighters utilizing the newest technologies.
The C-130 TRASC capability delivers command and control, situational awareness, ISR (intel, surveillance, reconnaissance), VIP communications, and other highly desired information sources in support of ever-increasing needs such as Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2). As a turn-key offering, it includes Cisco®-based PacStar 444 gigabit switching and PacStar 447 gigabit routing, integrated with dual SATCOM modems and UPS, in a composite transit case that can access a number of Ku and Ka-band networks.
In addition to rugged, high-speed networking from PacStar, C-130 TRASC features:
- Evolutionary Antenna Systems with X, Ku, Ka, and Ku/Ka-band combined options
- Dual-Modem Configuration: Includes iDirect Government 9800 AR and Inmarsat G-MODMAN (additional modem models integrated at customer request)
- Antenna Options: GETSAT MilliSAT LW Ka-band and GCE BB45KuKaH
- Satellite Network Compatibility: Inmarsat GX Type Certified, Intelsat, mil-Ka, and commercial Ka (others forthcoming)
- Hatch-mount and Wing Shoulder-Mount options: no aircraft modifications required
- Dual-Input Airworthy Power UPS: 115VAC/47-800Hz and 28VDC Inputs
- Convenience outlets for customer equipment
- Fully-Inclusive Capability: Requires only aircraft power to operate
Peggy J. Miller, CEO of PacStar: “As defensive postures evolve from more stationary environments to the need to support warfighters moving from position to position, PacStar has proven its ability to deliver networking-on-the-move packaged into rugged small form factors to handle a wide variety of terrain. We are thrilled to collaborate with SelectTech/R4 Integration, Inc. to extend networking-on-the-move to airborne environments.”
Scott Sullivan, President and CEO of SelectTech: “This integration effort demonstrates the companies’ commitment to providing dependable and critical communications capabilities for tactical missions where bandwidth is key to success. SelectTech has supported the warfighter with SATCOM on the C-130 airframe for years and continues to expand and integrate new technologies. PacStar small form factor, modular COTS-based modules allow SelectTech to ruggedize our C-130 TRASC kit for airborne SATCOM while providing a configuration that will be familiar for users across air and land applications.”
John Parsley, President of R4 Integration, Inc.: “Working closely with the industry’s leading technology solution providers and side-by-side with the warfighter, R4 has quickly developed and fielded airborne networking solutions that have met and exceeded customer expectations. This close communication and working relationship with all key stakeholders has allowed us to perform rapid product improvements, such as the PacStar 400-Series tactical, ruggedized modules that increase the warfighters’ networking-on-the-move capability and demonstrate a proven, battle ready solution.”
The integrated solution is immediately available to US and international organizations. For more information and to order the system, visit the SelectTech website here: https://www.sgamf.com/TRASC.html. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
20 Oct 20. Firefly Aerospace Announces New Customer Agreements, Completes Stage 1 Acceptance Testing Ahead of First Alpha Launch. Firefly Aerospace, Inc., a leading provider of economical and dependable launch vehicles, spacecraft, and in-space services, today announced the successful acceptance test of the first stage of its Alpha launch vehicle for its inaugural flight later this year, and the execution of new customer agreements.
Firefly has signed a Launch Services Agreement (LSA) with Spire Global (Spire) for the launch of Lemur spacecraft on the Alpha launch vehicle. The LSA will provide for the launch of Spire spacecraft on multiple Alpha missions over the contract period. Firefly has also executed an LSA with Geometric Space Corporation for the full payload capacity of an Alpha launch vehicle.
Robert Sproles, Senior Director, Constellation Planning and Operations at Spire said, “The addition of Firefly Alpha to the Spire launch program further diversifies options to populate and replenish our world leading nanosatellite constellation. We are looking forward to flying many successful missions with Firefly.”
Samuel Reid, CEO of Geometric Space Corporation said, “With a 1,000 kg payload capacity to low Earth orbit, Firefly Alpha provides a unique capability in the small launch vehicle market. Geometric Space looks forward to working in conjunction with Firefly and our customers to provide an integrated launch experience on Alpha.”
In addition to the customer agreements, Firefly also provided information on recently achieved Alpha milestones. The Alpha Flight 1 Stage 1 performed a 35 second static fire, including a full suite of thrust vector control maneuvers. Subsequently, a 15 second final trim test was performed, and the stage will now ship to Firefly’s launch complex at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB).
Concurrently, the Alpha Flight 1 payload fairing successfully completed a separation test. The payload fairing separation system was designed and manufactured by Firefly. The system is operationally recyclable, allowing for multiple tests of the flight unit.
Firefly is also nearing completion of its Launch Control Center, Integration Hangar, and launch pad, including assembly of the Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL) at historic Space Launch Complex 2 West (SLC-2W) at VAFB. Firefly’s TEL, built by Firefly’s design and fabrication teams in Texas and California, is being integrated and will soon commence ground system activation.
“The successful first stage acceptance testing is the latest in a series of hardware, facilities and test milestones occurring weekly as we approach the inaugural Alpha launch later this year,” said Dr. Tom Markusic, Firefly Aerospace CEO. “Our continued technical successes correspond to increasing confidence and demand from our customers. We welcome Spire and Geometric Space to the Firefly customer family and look forward to delivering their payloads on Alpha, the most capable and economical small launch vehicle on the market.”
The Alpha launch vehicle, which stands 95 feet tall with the capability to deliver 1 metric ton to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and 630 kilograms to Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO), is designed to fulfill the needs of the burgeoning small satellite market. Combining the highest payload performance with the lowest cost per kilogram to orbit in its class, Alpha provides launch options for both full vehicle and rideshare missions.
“Our Alpha launch vehicle fills a major market gap with its ability to deliver four times the current maximum payload of other small satellite launch vehicles. This successful stage 1 test, combined with previous successful stage 2 testing, fully validates the design and manufacture of the Alpha launch vehicle and positions Firefly as the future leader in the one metric ton small launcher class.” Markusic added. “I had the good fortune to participate in the development of SpaceX Falcon 1 and Falcon 9, over a decade ago. The current version of Alpha, along with our planned block upgrade to 1,300 kg to LEO, returns long-needed Falcon 1 class mission options to the smallsat market.”
ABOUT GEOMETRIC SPACE CORPORATION
Geometric Space Corporation (GSC), a subsidiary of Geometric Energy Corporation, provides space mission design and launch integration logistics services for payloads launching to low earth orbit and the Moon. GSC is a Canada-based space company which offers launch service capacity and integration services for companies and payloads that either cannot technically handle or cannot afford the minimum entry requirements of working directly with launch service providers. GSC is focused on expanding business in launch brokering services, integration of launch interface equipment, management of flight certification testing, and space insurance services. (Source: PR Newswire)
20 Oct 20. Are software-defined ground stations the next big leap? Kratos is betting on it. Software-defined payloads have revolutionized how industry and the government approach satellites. So why not software-defined ground stations?
That’s the question Kratos is asking. On Oct. 20, the longtime Pentagon contractor with experience building satellite support systems unveiled its new OpenSpace platform — a family of virtual products that applies the software-defined approach to the ground station. OpenSpace uses an open standards, cloud-based system that can be continuously adjusted to mission needs without having to install new hardware.
Pentagon officials often complain that the nation’s current satellite ground architecture is stymied by stovepiped, custom-built proprietary ground systems. The department has said it plans to move to an enterprise ground system, but it’s not there yet.
Kratos hopes that OpenSpace can at least be part of the solution.
Because the platform is software-based, satellite operators no longer need to use custom-built hardware to connect to and control their on-orbit systems. Instead, OpenSpace virtualizes the ground system in software, effectively allowing it to be linked up to any antenna with a digital converter.
“It’s a big announcement from our perspective in that it’s going to address a lot of the key issues that are challenging the space industry across the board, and especially some of the issues that the defense and government world is going through,” Neil Oatley, Kratos’ vice president for marketing, told C4ISRNET.
‘We’re really stuck back’
Software-defined payloads have opened up new possibilities in the space industry. Previously, satellites were designed to be rather static tools — once placed in orbit, it becomes all but impossible to physically replace the payload hardware or refigure the software. That means that the system you launch is the system you’ve got, regardless of whether your mission needs change or you want to do something new with your orbital tech.
The Defense Department is investing in capabilities that could eventually allow physical access to operational satellites via robotic space vehicles, but that’s still in development.
All that is just to say, when the military builds a satellite, it builds it with the expectation that the space-bound payload will be largely static over the lifetime of the spacecraft. In other words, it will do the mission it was meant to do, and not much else.
“When you look at the ground today, it’s the one area where we’re really stuck back in 2G-type technology,” said Phil Carrai, president of Kratos’ Space, Training and Cyber division. “Systems are stovepiped. They’re static. They’re built with custom hardware. They have software-specific technologies that are dedicated to specific satellites. And that’s really making them unable to play in the coming new world.”
Building a new, custom ground system for each new satellite or constellation is not only costly, but it limits flexibility. The satellite-specific nature of existing ground systems makes it difficult to build third-party applications that can easily be installed across systems. Moreover, it limits the ability of operators to simultaneously connect to multiple constellations using the same ground system.
However, industry has created a workaround.
Satellites may not be physically inaccessible, but they frequently communicate with operators over radio frequency signals. If a given payload’s functions are largely virtualized — meaning they are software-defined and not hardware-defined — then operators can alter a given satellite’s capabilities and mission by simply installing new software.
Hence, the growing interest in building software-defined payloads. In fact, the next GPS payload will feature an entirely digital payload.
With OpenSpace, Kratos is applying the basic principles of software-defined payloads to satellite ground systems — the technology used to command and control the spacecraft once it’s on orbit. The ground system is what operators use to cue, download data from, and monitor their satellites. According to Kratos, its OpenSpace platform is the first dynamic, software-defined ground system that will apply those lessons learned from the space layer to the ground layer.
“What we did with OpenSpace is we actually started from scratch with an entirely new platform that is based on the fundamentals of network function virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN),” said Greg Quiggle, vice president of product management at Kratos, comparing the platform to the architecture underlying new 5G networks. “We took that same basic premise and we applied it to the way a ground system should be built to interconnect software-defined satellites, multi-constellation networks and a terrestrial network.”
A key feature that enables OpenSpace is the digitization of the radio frequency signal as close to the antenna as possible, transforming that flow of data into what is effectively a large ethernet network.
“Once you’ve done that — you move from [radio frequency] to digital — you now can process those subchannels, that bandwidth, in software through something called virtualized network functions,” Quiggle explained.
The platform takes typical purpose-built ground station hardware — splitters, channelizers, matrix switches, modulators, demodulators and much more — and recreates them in a virtual environment. Once the radio frequency data is digitized, it can be processed through all of these virtual tools.
One consequence of that is the software can be run anywhere — it does not have to be located at the antenna. Operators can run this solution in the cloud or in a classified data center, said Quiggle.
That also means any ground station using OpenSpace can be quickly adjusted for different uses. For instance, take an operator who needs to interact with satellites. By using an OpenSource-enabled ground station, that individual can load his or her own software-defined solution into the system, connect with the satellite, download any data and cue the spacecraft for its next tasks. Once that satellite passes out of view, a second operator can take over the ground station, load an entirely different software-defined solution and interact with the satellite as it passes over. In this scenario, both users were able to use a single ground station to communicate with their own unique satellites.
In another example, the first user is ready to use one ground station to interact with a satellite as it passes overhead, but inclement weather disrupts the process. Instead of waiting for the satellite to pass overhead again, the user simply needs to find the next available ground station on the satellite’s course, virtually load software and then access the satellite from there.
OpenSpace is clearly set to have commercial implications. In fact, Microsoft announced Oct. 20 that it will use OpenSpace as part of its Azure Orbital ground-station-as-a-service.
Azure Orbital is Microsoft’s answer to Amazon Web Services’ Ground Station model, which allows customers to access their satellites by renting time on Amazon’s ground stations and the AWS platform. It’s a business model that could be attractive to small companies looking to field small satellites without building massive, cost-prohibitive ground systems to support them.
But a product like OpenSpace could make an even bigger splash in the military space community, especially when it comes to satellite communications.
In a statement released earlier this year, the Space Force laid out its concept of “fighting SATCOM.” The service envisions enabling war fighters to roam among satellite communications providers to ensure forces remain connected even if one provider is jammed or unavailable. That level of fluidity requires some major changes to how the military has traditionally approached satellite communications.
“One of the things that the government is looking for very specifically is the ability to create an open enterprise-wide architecture for their protected communications systems,” said Frank Backes, senior vice president for federal space-related business at Kratos.
“And as they move forward with proliferated LEO [low-Earth orbit] and MEO [medium-Earth orbit] constellations to add communication options, resiliency and capability to their current geosynchronous space communications environment … this ground architecture is very critical to the defense goals and what they’re trying to achieve,” he added.
Currently, the ability to roam between constellations to avoid jamming is hampered by stovepiped systems, which are designed to work with a single satellite or a set of satellites. Because OpenSpace can leverage any radio frequency antenna, digitizes that signal and process that data in software, the operator can use the same ground station for multiple constellations. Kratos certainly hopes that its system could be the ground solution for the “fight SATCOM” concept.
“Today, the U.S. government on the defense side is very dependent on their own antennas and their own hardware that is deployed for their communications infrastructure and their satellite command-and-control environment. And one of the reasons for that is the hardware that is out in the field today is protected hardware: It may have specialized waveforms, it may have specialized components, it may even have specialized encryption infrastructure,” Backes said. “That limits the military to only using certain apertures for communications. As soon as you move to this dynamic environment — this OpenSpace environment that Kratos is talking about — now you have the ability to use any commercial or military antenna infrastructure for your system and dynamically configure that as needed.
“Combined with the ability to move protected hardware out of the field and putting that into a controlled cloud environment, now all of a sudden I have the ability to create the resilient environment that the Department of Defense is looking for.”
Kratos told C4ISRNET in a statement that the company “is providing satellite ground system engineering support on several DoD pLEO space segment teams.” In addition, the company noted it “will be bidding our OpenSpace and [Eterprise Ground Services] capabilities on pLEO systems as those opportunities mature.”
“When you look at … the new LEO and MEO constellations — just from a pure imaging/sensing perspective — we don’t see how you make those happen without an element of a dynamic software-defined ground,” Carrai said. “The timing has to be second or milliseconds. That we think is going to be essential for us to really get what we’re paying for and we need from a U.S. constellation perspective.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
21 Oct 20. Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions Launches Industry’s Highest Density NAND Flash Memory Module for Space Applications.
Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions (CAES), a leading provider of mission critical electronic solutions, today announced the industry’s highest density NAND flash memory device for a range of demanding space applications. The 4 terabit (Tb) triple-level cell (TLC), NAND Flash Memory Module delivers 32 times the density of the closest competing device while fitting into the same industry-standard 12mm x 18mm plastic-encapsulated microcircuit (PEM) package. With access to unparalleled storage capacity, designers can significantly increase sensor and digital signal processing in applications such as solid-state drives and recorders, reconfigurable computing systems, imaging and communications data buffering applications.
“Our 4Tb NAND Flash Memory Module delivers an order of magnitude boost in memory density at lower power and without any increase in package size,” said Kevin Jackson, vice president, space systems, Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions. “This directly improves the performance and capability of spacecraft instruments, for example, by increasing the signal fidelity and resolution of satellite imaging equipment. At the same time, our tightly-controlled supply chain and extensive testing processes mean that designers no longer have to up-screen commercial flash memory solutions in the hope of finding radiation-tolerant components.”
The new module performs up to 667 mega-transfers per second (MT/s) and is compliant with both Open NAND Flash Interface (ONFI) 4.0 and JEDEC NAND Flash Interoperability (JESD230C) specifications. While aerospace designers must screen commercial-grade NAND flash to estimate radiation tolerance and operational lifetime, the new CAES radiation-assured flash modules undergo extensive pre-testing. This includes Total Ionizing Dose (TID) and Single-Event Effects (SEE) characterization on a wafer lot-by-lot basis to ensure optimum radiation hardness. To maximize quality control across its manufacturing supply chain, CAES also applies Parts, Materials and Process (PMaP) failure-mode analysis to monitor for potential variations in the semiconductor fabrication process.
The UT81NDQ512G8T, 4Tb NAND flash module supports NV-DDR3 I/O (667 MT/s), NV-DDR2 I/O (533 MT/s), asynchronous I/O (50 MT/s) speeds and TLC endurance of 3,000 program/erase cycles. The module operates across +2.7 – +3.6V input and +1.14 – +1.26V or +1.7 – +1.95V output voltage ranges and specified to a temperature range of -40°C to +85°C. The 132-ball BGA module is available now in engineering units, with flight models to be released in the second quarter of 2021.
CAES also provides other technologies for commercial, civil, military, and other government spacecraft. With a space pedigree spanning nearly 40 years, CAES offers a full range of solutions for the world’s leading launch vehicles, satellites and space exploration missions. Key capabilities include radiation hardened and high reliability microelectronics, application specific integrated circuits (ASIC), electronic manufacturing services, motion control and positioning, antennas and apertures, radiation effects testing, RF, microwave and millimeter wave microelectronics, motion control devices, power solutions, intellectual property cores, avionic solutions and LEON/SPARC processors. For more information, visit www.cobhamaes.com/space. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
20 Oct 20. Ramstein Air Base to host new NATO space center. NATO member defense ministers are expected to approve a plan this week to create a space center at the U.S. Air Force base in Ramstein, Germany, according to officials and local media reports.
The center’s creation, which is on the agenda for an Oct. 22 meeting of defense ministers, would come as space capabilities gain importance in the defense calculus of global powers. The United States, Russia and China have each heavily invested in space technology in recent years, though many of the activities are closely guarded secrets.
“We expect NATO defense ministers will agree on Thursday to create a new NATO space center at our air command in Ramstein,” an alliance official told Defense News. “This will be a focal point for ensuring space support to NATO operations, sharing information and coordinating our activities.”
The plans were first reported Monday by German press agency DPA and the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Alliance members designated space as an operational domain at NATO’s 2019 London summit. Spacecraft are essential, but vulnerable, elements powering modern-day armed forces, carrying payloads for navigation, communications, surveillance and targeting.
“Satellite systems keep our world running in ways many people barely realize. Commerce, weather forecasts, mobile phones and banking all rely on satellites,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
Still undecided, meanwhile, is the location of a center of excellence devoted to military space — a kind of NATO think tank on the subject — where analysts would study concepts and develop doctrine. France and Germany each have lobbied to host such an organization.
A group of German companies has urged the government to highlight the country’s space-technology capabilities in an effort to lure the center of excellence here.
One proposal, pitched by the Federation of German Industries trade association, envisions building a mobile launch platform in the middle of the North Sea that could eventually be used by the armed forces of Germany and NATO. Such a move would nurture an ecosystem of companies whose business model is based on small, low-cost space launches in the style of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, the group has argued. (Source: Defense News)
19 Oct 20. Space Ops Command Seeks Industry Aid To ‘Scale Up’ Innovation.
“I think that the hardest part for the Space Force is the challenge of security, and how would we work with small business in enable technologies that you guys have,” Maj. Gen. DeAnna Burt says.
Figuring out how to scale up the use of secure digital design and innovative ideas from small firms will be one of the first orders of business for the Space Force command responsible for overseeing all military satellite programs following its official start-up on Wednesday, says Maj. Gen. DeAnna Burt.
“Any ideas there from industry of how you guys organized to take grassroots-level ideas from parts of your divisions and then scale them across the enterprise, those would be interesting thoughts,” Burt, who directs operations and communications at Space Force headquarters. told the virtual SpaceCom event today. “I’d love to take those, because we’re looking at how do we organize headquarters Space Operations Command here after we stand up this week.”
Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett on Wednesday will officially launch Space Operations Command, or SpOC, re-designating the current Space Force HQ at Petersen AFB as the HQ SpOC from now on.
The SpOC is one of three Space Force commands announced in June, along with Space Systems Command (SSC, which will take over Space and Missile Systems Center) and Space Training and Readiness Command (STAR Command). It oversees operations of US military satellites, and is currently commanded by Maj. Gen. John Shaw (who on Oct. 2 was nominated to be deputy commander of Space Command and another star.) In essence, SpOC replicates the old Air Force Space Command. While the Air Force officially re-designated 14th Air Force as the SpOC last December, the Space Force has been in the throes of re-jiggering its field command structure since then.
“This re-designation will align the field command responsibility for organizing, training, equipping, and presenting USSF forces to the staff and commander responsible for executing this mission. The physical location of the Service’s headquarters will transition to the Pentagon supporting the CSO [Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond] in Washington, D.C.,” explains a Space Force press release.
At the same time, the current SpOC HQ at Vandenberg AFB in California will be re-designated Space Operations Command West (SpOC West). “SpOC West will be responsible for executing space warfighting operations in support of Combatant Commanders, Coalition partners, the Joint Force, and the Nation. SpOC West will also serve as the headquarters and staff of U.S. Space Command’s (USSPACECOM) Combined Force Space Component Command (CFSCC),” the release says.
Burt said that Space Force HQ in Washington, under Maj. Gen. William Liquori as deputy chief of space operations for strategy, plans, programs, requirements and analysis, will handle the “big programs of record, and big ‘R’ requirements, and big contracting.”
“We see ourselves at headquarters SpOC being this enabler to DevSecOps. How do we do these small innovations and the small things, so that we can continue to make the fight-tonight mission better?” she said.
SpOC will continue to work with small businesses and venture capital firms at Catalyst Campus in Colorado Spring as a first step in integrating them into DoD’s acquisition ecosystem, she said.
“I’m an operator, not an acquirer, by trade, but one of the places where I see us having lots of good interactions are at Catalyst Campus here locally,” she said. “We have this development test-bed where we can have folks come and show us things and capabilities that they do.”
One of the key issues with bringing in innovation from the private sector, she noted, is ensuring proper levels of security without hampering the ability of firms to grow and continue to do cutting-edge work.
“We’re working towards a PlatformONE and the Unified Data Library, and how we can expose space data so that folks can see the problem sets we’re talking about and how to do that in an unclassified level,” she said.
“I think that’s the hardest part for the Space Force is the challenge of security, and how would we work with small business in enable technologies that you guys have … and scale it up and help you with the security part of it, to be able to get to Secret, TS/SCI and even to some of our Special Access Program levels,” she added.
The other lever for integrating innovative ideas are the Space Force’s Combat Development Divisions (CDDs) that have their own “wing innovation funds” to seek out solutions to near-term tactical problems.
The concept of the innovation funds being given down to squadron level was launched by former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein back in 2018. The goal was to allow airmen “to think and act like start-ups” and help them “deliver bottom-up solutions,” according to a service press release at the time. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
19 Oct 20. Airbus calls on local support for satellite communications project. The global aerospace company has announced plans to partner with key enablers in the Australian space and technology industries, as part of its work to build a complete defence satellite communications system.
Airbus has formed ‘Team Maier’ — a co-operative made up of Australian defence and aerospace companies and academia, set up to develop a solution for Joint Project (JP) 9102.
The project aims to strengthen sovereign industrial space and defence capability by establishing a complete Defence Satellite Communications System for Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.
According to Airbus, Team Maier would produce workshare and export opportunities for Australian SMEs, create jobs, and foster technology transfer and innovation.
As part of its work to form Team Maier, Airbus has issued a call to local industry through its supplier database ICN Gateway, which details the range of key technologies, specialist skills and manufacturing capabilities that it’s looking to source from Australia.
“We have always recognised the expertise and capabilities that Australian companies and academia can bring to our business, and how important synergies can be achieved,” Andrew Mathewson, Airbus head of country, Australia and New Zealand, said.
“Reinforcing our long-standing commitment to the Commonwealth of Australia, our new Team Maier brings in partners to enable the Australian Defence Force to achieve its strategic objectives of Shape, Deter, and Respond across the Indo-Pacific region.
“Airbus has injected more than $950m of activities into the Australian aerospace industry over the last three years, for civil and military fixed-wing and rotary wing aircraft, generating economic benefits of over $1.7bn for Australia.”
He added, “We are now looking to build on that with space.”
Airbus has owned and operated the UK Skynet military satellite communications system for more than 15 years on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence, under a multibillion-dollar contract.
As part of the Skynet program, Airbus provides a range of space-based services to export customers worldwide including Australia, the US and other NATO Allies.
In 2016, Airbus invested in a new purpose-built satellite ground station in Adelaide, to land Skynet secure military satellite communications, which extended its existing chain of teleports in France, Germany, Norway, the UK and the US, providing global coverage in both fixed and mobile satellite services. (Source: Defence Connect)
13 Oct 20. Space IoT Extended By France’s ANGELS Smallsat. ANGELS, France’s first industrial smallsat, extends the scope of space IoT and is five times more powerful and 10 times smaller than its predecessors — ANGELS has been designed to address the current challenges of New Space: miniaturization, scaled-up performance and very low consumption.
ANGELS is opening up its services to current users and offering IoT players premium access to this new connectivity. ANGELS gives a first taste of the opportunities provided by Kinéis, the first constellation of European smallsats dedicated to IoT.
Carrying a state-of-the-art ARGOS instrument, ANGELS is supported by CNES and manufacturers such as Thales Alenia Space, HEMERIA and Syrlinks.
ANGELS is so sensitive that transmitters on the ground can reach it with a transmission power of just 100 mW, about a fifth of the power needed by current ARGOS transmitters. It also provides access to a new frequency band, boosting the capabilities of the seven satellites in the current system. These major innovations will enable users to extend the battery life of their transmitters and reduce their size and weight.
Data from the 20,000 transmitters are currently processed by the entire system, a figure that will increase to several million by 2030. For biologists, who have been using the ARGOS system with CLS for more than 40 years, this means that their studies can last longer and can include new, smaller species through suitably miniaturized transmitters.
The addition of ANGELS (ARGOS Neo on a Generic Economical and Light Satellite) to the ARGOS satellite fleet, a world reference in the collection of transmitter data for the study and protection of the environment, offers new data collection capabilities. The ARGOS Neo instrument is the first of a new generation: this technological wonder has passed the challenge of miniaturization by being ten times lighter (2 kg) and three times more energy-efficient than previous generations.
“All the innovations developed on board of the satellite in orbit has immediate benefits for users. In practical terms, this new instrument allows the transmitters to become smaller and lighter, which opens up the range of objects inside which they can be fitted. While the ANGELS model already offers exceptional performance, the 25 similar nanosatellites of the future constellation will meet even more demanding specifications,” explained Alexandre Tisserant, CEO of Kinéis.
Caroline Laurent, CNES’s Director of Orbital Systems, remarked, “The opening of new services and the inclusion of ANGELS in the ARGOS satellite fleet represent a new milestone in the ARGOS system success story. This was made possible thanks to the unique partnership between CNES, Thales Alenia Space, Syrlinks and HEMERIA. ANGELS is the symbol of French New Space: innovative working methods in action. Designed, developed, manufactured and qualified in record time, ANGELS announces the starting point for the marketing of a range of nanosatellites weighing less than 50 kg. It is carrying ARGOS Neo, itself the precursor of a new generation of low-cost, highly miniaturized instruments.”
Benoit Broudy, VP of the Navigation business at Thales Alenia Space in France, added, “We are proud to have supplied the ARGOS Neo instrument, and of its successful commissioning on ANGELS. It represents an important milestone in Thales Alenia Space’s New Space and innovation approach. The ARGOS system is the global benchmark in satellite location and data collection. Instrument miniaturization offers new spaceflight solutions such as nanosatellite constellations and creates new opportunities in satellite navigation and the Internet of Things. We are happy to share the success of the ANGELS mission, which should spur the development of a French nanosatellite sector to address the booming New Space market.”
Nicolas Multan, CEO of HEMERIA, reported, “I am delighted and proud of the progress made since 2016, a time when questions were being asked about ‘how cube- and nanosats can be turned into industrial products with promising performance’. I think we can say that ANGELS clearly demonstrates French know-how in the New Space area, from CNES labs all the way through to the industrial sector, which we are working to unite. This demonstrator, which is now operational, is good news for the constellation of 25 satellites soon to be launched, which will make Kinéis a unique player in tomorrow’s IoT world.”
Christophe Vassal, President of CLS, provider of ARGOS environmental services, mentioned, “According to WWF’s latest Living Planet Report, populations of vertebrates – fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles – fell by 68% between 1970 and 2016. ANGELS and the forthcoming Kinéis constellation are flying strategic technologies for improving knowledge and protection of biodiversity. ANGELS therefore opens the path to a bright future for wildlife conservation, but also for the sustainable management of marine resources with the monitoring of traditional fishing vessels, or the study of our Blue Planet with the establishment of a digital twin of the ocean. From now on, any sponsor of a project offering connected solutions for the environment can obtain assistance in developing applications. The Kinéis and CLS teams will provide technical and commercial support to all pro-planet players in the creation of novel space applications.”
Guy Richard, President and CEO of Syrlinks, said, “Syrlinks is proud to have taken part in designing the ARGOS Neo miniaturized payload with Thales Alenia Space. We contributed our expertise in space radio communications, digital signal processing and software, and our mastery of the New Space system. Syrlinks also provided ARGOS Neo with an ultra-stable reference clock, essential for locating ARGOS transmitters. Developing payloads is fully in line with the company’s strategy and allows us to diversify our range of satcom products with more advanced features.“ (Source: Satnews)
13 Oct 20. Optical Comms Earth Station To Be Built In Western Australia. An optical communications station capable of receiving high-speed data transmissions from space is set to be built in Western Australia and will be installed by The University of Western Australia.
The advanced communications ground station will be able to receive data from spacecraft anywhere between LEO and the surface of the Moon. It has the potential to support ground-breaking space projects, including NASA’s Artemis mission to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024.
This is a joint initiative of UWA’s Astrophotonics Group, which is part of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), as well as the ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQUS) and UK industry partner Goonhilly Earth Station.
The ground station was launched to coincide with the International Astronautical Congress. It will be part of a larger Australasian optical ground station network, led by the Australian National University, and with partners in South Australia, and New Zealand.
The station will use make use of a 0.7 meter observatory-grade optical telescope donated to ICRAR by Perth local Colin Eldridge. It will be fitted with advanced atmospheric-noise suppression technology developed at UWA.
The 0.7 meter optical telescope donated by Colin Eldridge that will be used for the ground station.
The station will be connected to Goonhilly’s supercomputer data centre in Cornwall via high-speed fiber. Goonhilly handles data traffic and supports secure communications links for the world’s major satellite operators, including Intelsat, Eutelsat and SES Satellites. The company is also a partner in the European Space Agency’s Lunar Pathfinder Mission, which is scheduled to launch in 2022.
The $535,000 station is expected to be ‘on-sky’ in early 2021 and open for business later that year.
Astrophotonics Group leader Dr. Sascha Schediwy from The University of Western Australia and ICRAR said optical communications was an emerging technology expected to revolutionize data transfer from space. He said, “Most current space communications rely on radio waves—it’s the same technology that brought us the voice of Neil Armstrong when the Apollo 11 mission landed on the Moon in 1969. Free-space optical laser communications has several advantages over radio, including significantly faster data rates and hack-proof data transfer. It’s the next-generation of space communications, and it’s likely to be how we’ll see high definition footage of the first woman to walk on the Moon.” He noted that WA’s ground station would help launch Australia’s space communications capacity, stating, “This will cement Australia’s position as a leader in optical data transmission, and position the nation to tap into the multi-billion-dollar space communications market.”
EQUS Director, Professor Andrew White, said the project, which could be the first ‘on-sky’ optical communications ground station in the Southern Hemisphere, was a prime example of fundamental research delivering real-world outcomes. He said, “EQUS delivers major impacts by encouraging and enabling our people to translate their research into tangible technologies and applications. We are building a culture of innovation, translation and commercialization among quantum science researchers in Australia. In addition to space communications, the ground station could also be used for applications ranging from cutting-edge fundamental physics to precision earth science and resource geophysics.”
Professor White added that the ground station would contribute to the development of the ‘quantum internet’—secure global data transmission using quantum-key distribution via optical links to quantum satellites and would stand as an example of cutting-edge science partnering with forward-looking businesses and delivering impacts for both.
Goonhilly Chief Executive Ian Jones said he was delighted to join forces with UWA, ICRAR and EQUS to establish an optical communications satellite ground station in Western Australia. He said, “We’ve been at the forefront of satellite communications since the start of the space age, and this is driving it into the next generation of systems and technologies to support the enormous data volumes emanating from space missions. This data arises from science and other missions and, in the future, will come from Lunar and Mars missions that involve remote operations, robotics and AI. We’re proud to be joint trailblazers in the practical implementation of coherent optical communications.” (Source: Satnews)
19 Oct 20. ‘Weaponized truth’: How the US military plans to compete in the crowded information space. Investing in information warfare capabilities is as important as updating military platforms, according to Col. Myles Caggins, the director of public affairs for the U.S. Army’s III Corps.
“Senior leaders need to embrace that public-communication warfare is important, and then have the policies that provide the resources to equip our words warriors and our soldiers with what they need,” he said during a virtual presentation Oct. 15 as part of the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting.
To quickly thwart and defeat adversarial messages and campaigns in the information space — which includes social media and, more broadly, the internet — the Defense Department must invest in its information professionals and their tools just as it does in updating its tanks and planes, the officer argued.
Caggins recently concluded a tour in the Middle East serving as the spokesman for the global coalition combating the Islamic Statet group in Iraq and Syria. At the AUSA event, he shared lessons learned about fighting in the information environment, which includes a host of both state and nonstate actors.
A video from his presentation pointed to Russia, which is involved in the Syrian conflict, as an example of a country that conducts maneuvers in the physical space to achieve goals in the information environment. He cited Russia’s seemingly adept assault on a U.S. base in Syria, which was abandoned the day prior. The assault was filmed and broadcast.
On the modern internet, messages — true or false — can rapidly spread across the globe, and once a narrative is established, countering it can be a challenge. U.S. officials have described how American adversaries are winning the propaganda battle for hearts and minds by making false or misleading claims, such as large-scale civilian casualties during U.S. airstrikes. By the time the U.S. military conducts a full-scale assessment of these incidents, the narrative has taken hold.
The video from Caggins’ presentation also said the coalition fighting ISIS competed in this dynamic information environment in several ways: It created a mindset to domination the information environment with weaponized truth; it used an audience-centric approach to reach the people of Iraq and northeastern Syria in their natural language and on regional networks; it built relationships with representatives from partner forces and with regional journalists to fight misinformation; and it talked to the public though the press and embedded media.
While the U.S. military has struggled adapting to this fast-paced, modern information space, one of the tactics that emerged from its efforts involves disclosing adversarial activity.
Caggins said in his experience, social media is the fastest way to distribute messages, but the most effective route to the general public is through the press.
“As the tweeter in chief for the coalition, I had around 100,000 followers who were built up over the years. It would reach regional audiences, but most importantly I was trying to reach the journalists who would follow me so they could share the information, reach their audiences, hundreds of millions, hypothetically, billions of people from those tweets,” he said.
As the U.S. military reorganizes and reorients to fight the information war, top officials have talked at length about the importance public affairs plays in the landscape aside other military capabilities like cyber, electronic warfare and intelligence.
Caggins agrees that public affairs activities should be more encouraged.
The Marine Corps, in its operating concepts for the information space, has purposely eschewed the term “information warfare,” opting for operations in the information environment. This is because the service wants to think more about the strategic communications aspect of it.
Caggins explained that soldiers on a patrol with cameras are essentially sensors, and that they should be allowed to post what they’re seeing — after a quick public affairs sanitation for operational security — because adversaries like Russia film everything they do.
“The Russians and other adversaries are filming everything that they do because they can’t afford some of the big-ticket programs and military items that we have. They know that information is much more influential often than large-scale military operations, kinetic activity, and they frequently don’t even have the capability to match us,” he said.
Caggins, also said the military has to give everyday foot soldiers and especially public affairs personnel the tools to upload content faster to compete in this environment.
“I’d like it if we, as an institution, as the government, formally amplified some of the social media that’s being done by our service members,” he said, adding that there should be more trust so military members can tell their stories.
He contrasted this approach with that of what the military traditionally does: spend billions of dollars on platforms and conduct operations to deter actions. “But how about we do simple things like just taking pictures of what we do and, more importantly, having our own service members and civilians tell their own story,” Caggins said.
Providing soldiers with the right camera gear and amplifying their messages is far less costly, he argued, and that can have a large impact. For example, Caggins said, following the Iranian missile attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq in January, combat camera soldiers took pictures of the damage that made it to Washington, impacting decisions made by top national leadership.
“Having a combat camera soldier there at Al Asad [Air Base] — even in a period where we’re reducing the number of U.S. troops on the ground — was essential,” he said.
The next step, according to Caggins, would be better Wi-Fi capabilities so troops can more quickly upload images, as there are areas where signals are limited or using the internet requires forces to pay out of pocket.
“We need to enable our words warriors to fight and win on the battlefield. No different than every few years the military will relook the rifles that our soldiers have, the optics that they have, will upgrade our tanks and helicopters,” Caggins said. “They need to be able to upload imagery anywhere in the world.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
09 Oct 20. Virtual PDR Conducted By SMC + Boeing Results in Success For WGS-11+ Satellite. The Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS)-11+ program completed its first ever, all-virtual, Preliminary Design Review (PDR) culminating in the successful conclusion of the review on July 1 after an eight-month long campaign.
Leveraging the Space and Missile Systems Center’s cross-corps enterprise structure, the three-day event was co-chaired by SMC’s Production Corps and Portfolio Architect’s Mission System Integration leadership. Stakeholders across the Wideband community including system engineers from the Army, Navy and U.S. Space Force participated in the PDR.
The WGS-11+ design was evaluated by all stakeholders against specific technical criteria to ensure the optimal capability is delivered to the warfighter. Zero liens were recorded and the WGS-11+ program was declared ready to proceed to detailed design.
To overcome the challenges stemming from the COVID-19 Pandemic, the WGS Program office collaborated with Boeing and external stakeholders to conduct the PDR in an all-virtual environment.
With the PDR complete, WGS-11+ continues to be a SMC pacesetter program for the rapid application of the latest commercial technology our industry partners have to offer. The program continues to maintain an aggressive 5-year production schedule and is expected to deliver the satellite six months faster than legacy WGS satellites.
The WGS-11+ satellite will have more coverage beams than the combined existing WGS constellation and will provide Combatant Commanders with twice the mission capability in contested environments. Each individual beam is shapeable and can be uniquely tailored to each situation. This enables increased mission flexibility and responsiveness with narrower beams that help protect against jamming while allowing greater frequency reuse.
WGS-11+ will eventually join a constellation of ten WGS satellites currently on-orbit, substantially enhancing global coverage of essential communication services for the Department of Defense and its allies.
“This engineering design review is a key milestone because it means we are one step closer to delivering this groundbreaking satellite to the warfighter in record timing, significantly improving capacity and coverage to soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.” said Col. John Dukes, SMC Production Corps’ Geosynchronous/Polar Division chief.
“The successful accomplishment of this significant milestone demonstrates the WGS team’s commitment to delivering these new capabilities to our warfighters on time despite facing limitations in an unprecedented work environment,” said Major Shawna Matthys, WGS-11+ program manager. (Source: Satnews)
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