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30 Oct 20. DOD Establishes Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy. As directed in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 the Department of Defense established the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy (ASD(SP)) and the Office of the ASD(SP) Oct. 29, 2020.
The ASD(SP) will be the senior official responsible for the overall supervision of DoD policy for space warfighting. The ASD(SP) will be under the authority, direction, and control of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (USD(P)). In addition, ASD(SP) is responsible for interagency coordination and international engagement on space policy and strategy.
“The Department of Defense continues the most significant transformation in the history of the U.S. national security space program,” said Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist. “The establishment of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy is a change of the civilian oversight of the space enterprise that aligns with the establishment of the U.S. Space Force and U.S. Space Command.”
In 2019, the Department of Defense and the United States elevated two military organizations for space. This change in civilian oversight will continue to bring focus to long-term strategic competition, as outlined in the National Defense Strategy and the Lines of Effort outlined in the Defense Space Strategy.
Mr. Justin Johnson is designated as the official performing the duties of the ASD(SP) until such time as an individual is nominated by the President, confirmed by the Senate, and appointed to the position. Mr. Gregory Pejic is designated to serve as the Principal Deputy ASD(SP) until an individual is appointed to the position. (Source: US DoD)
30 Oct 20. China Set To Beat US, Russia Again In Space Launch Race. China has launched 29 satellites through Sept. 30, compared 27 launched by the US. The US has far more satellites already in space.
China has launched more satellites than any other country this year as of Sept. 30, according to a report by Bryce Space and Technology. This puts China on track to win the space launch-rate race three years in a row.
Through the third quarter of 2020, China has launched a total of 29 satellites. (We added up the totals using Bryce’s first, second and new third quarter reports.) In the third quarter alone, China launched 14 sats.
The US by contrast has launched 27 total, launching 10 this quarter. If it wasn’t for commercial firm SpaceX — which primarily has been launching its own Starlink constellation designed to provide world-wide Internet from space — the US would be far behind China. In fact, SpaceX, with 15 total launches, is second only to China’s state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), which has sent 25 rockets into space, as the most active launch provider so far this year, Bryce has found.
Russia comes in a distant third behind the other two major space powers, having launched only eight sats through the end of September.
However, while China is launching at a higher rate than other countries, the PRC suffers a higher rate of launch failure than most other launching states, according to a study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The study, How is China Advancing its Space Launch Capabilities, note that: “Although China has made great strides in developing its capabilities, its overall launch and payload tallies lag those of more established space powers like the US.”
According to the German satellite tracking blog Gunter’s Space Page, China’s launches this year include six Yaogan-30 satellites. China characterizes the Yaogan-30s as remote sensing satellites, but they are widely believed by Western experts to be PLA-owned reconnaissance birds. The most recent Yaogan-30 launch took place on Oct. 26, adding three more satellites to the constellation to make a total of 21 orbiting in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) at about 600 kilometers above the Earth.
“The PLA … has launched a number of what are probably [Electro-optical] satellites with Yaogan designations. The Yaogan-28 was launched in November 2015 and at least two of the Yaogan-30 series satellites launched in 2016/2017 are believed to carry EO payloads,” says the China Space and Counterspace Activities report released in May by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Other experts suggest that the satellites may be signals intelligence (SIGINT) sats designed to track ships using radio signals.
China led the world in launches last year, with 32 successful launches, and again in 2018, with a whopping 38 launches, according to the CSIS study, which was published Nov. 5, 2019 but was updated in August.
While China may be launching at a faster rate than any other country it lags far behind in the number of US satellites in space. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists Satellite Database, there are a total of 2,787 active satellites on orbit — the US owns/operates 1,425; China, 382; and Russia, 172 as of Aug. 1.
The Bryce report also shows that commercial communications satellite dominate the launch market, followed by commercial remote sensing satellites. The preponderance of these were small satellites in Low- or Medium-Earth Orbit.
Some Democrats Sour On F-35 Sale To UAE
“The Trump Administration has made it clear that they’ll put lethal weaponry in just about anyone’s hands without regard to potential loss of life so long as the check clears,” Rep. Eliot Engel says.
Of the 327 satellites launched by all nations in the third quarter, 273 were commercial satellites versus only 11 military satellites. (Bryce doesn’t break out types of satellite by country of launch.)
This reflects the continued growth of the commercial satellite market begun about a decade ago. The overall global space economy hit $366bn in revenue in 2019, with the commercial industry dominating the market, according to the 2020 State of the Satellite Industry report published by the Satellite Industry Association (SIA). Commercial satellite industry revenue was $271bn in 2019, accounting for almost 75 percent of global space business. The US accounted for $114bn, about 42 percent. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
29 Oct 20. Firefly Aerospace to Automate Composite Rocket Production with Ingersoll Machine Tools. Firefly Aerospace, Inc., a leading provider of economical and dependable launch vehicles, spacecraft, and in-space services, today announced a substantial commitment to increase its manufacturing capacity by transitioning large parts manufacturing to Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) Mongoose Hybrid systems from Ingersoll Machine Tools beginning next year. Once fully operational, Firefly’s AFP capabilities will enable it to produce its all-composite Alpha rocket airframe in as little as fourteen days.
“From the outset Firefly chose to utilize 21st century materials and manufacturing processes in our spacecraft and rocket designs. Metallics were the most prevalent aerospace material of the last century; composites, which are stronger and lighter than metallics, are the choice for modern aircraft. Firefly’s Alpha is the world’s largest all-carbon-fiber liquid fueled rocket,” said Firefly CEO Dr. Tom Markusic. “High speed, robotic, large-scale automated fiber placement (AFP) machines, like those produced by Ingersoll Machine Tools, are now widely utilized in the aircraft industry. These machines essentially allow you to 3D print composite structures of very large dimensions (e.g., commercial aircraft), something that is significantly more challenging with metallic 3D printing. Given that we can simply purchase machines which have been developed and proven by the aircraft industry and immediately achieve major cost, weight, and production time savings, it’s obvious to us that AFP is the most efficient and cost-effective approach to future rocket production. Firefly intends to pass those savings on to our customers.”
Firefly will install the first of two planned AFP systems in May 2021 at its manufacturing and test facility in Briggs, Texas, where Alpha will be requalified using AFP manufacturing processes. Firefly’s new Florida Space Coast factory and launch site at Cape Canaveral will house the second automated assembly line beginning 2022 and will ultimately be capable of producing an estimated 24 Alpha rockets per year, with the Briggs plant switching to automated developmental builds of the larger Beta launch vehicle.
Firefly will leverage the same AFP that leading aerospace companies are increasingly using to more efficiently manufacture the latest composite airframes for commercial airliners and government aircraft and fighter jets, ranging from the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 to F-35s. Once up and running at capacity, Firefly’s AFP system will fabricate all carbon-fiber structures of an Alpha rocket, including barrels, fairings, domes, and payload components, in as little as fourteen days.
Firefly’s Mongoose Hybrid will be the first equipped with Ingersoll’s new Hawk fiber delivery module, designed and tested for high productivity and high-reliability layup of mild curvature surfaces. Mongoose Hybrid also features Ingersoll’s automatic exchange of multiple composite manufacturing modules operating in adjacent workzones, allowing automated layup on multiple tools without human intervention.
Firefly’s new automated rocket factories will produce a broad range of benefits, including a 30-50% reduction in composite materials waste, increased repeatability, reduced touch labor and build times, and a tailored and optimized structure that further reduces weight and overall costs.
“Ingersoll is thrilled to bring our vast experience in automated composite manufacturing and robotics across the aerospace industry into the world of space rocketry and exploration with Firefly,” said Chip Storie, CEO of Ingersoll Machine Tools. “Ingersoll has played an important role in enabling breakthrough airframe production for major aircraft designs around the world, including the 787 and A350, and we look forward to supporting Firefly and its innovative approach to the efficient and cost-effective production and further development of its Alpha, Beta, and future spacecraft.”
“As Firefly approaches our first Alpha launch, our focus is transitioning to scaling our operational capabilities to meet the fast-growing commercial, government, and scientific mission demand for space access with the lightest, strongest, fastest built precision-made rocket in the industry,” added Dr. Markusic. “The integration of Ingersoll’s factory automation technology into our production lines in Texas and Florida represents a major investment in our future as a company and in the future of the cis-lunar space economy.”
ABOUT FIREFLY AEROSPACE
Firefly is developing a family of launch and in-space vehicles and services that provide industry-leading affordability, convenience and reliability. Firefly’s launch vehicles utilize common technologies, manufacturing infrastructure and launch capabilities, providing LEO launch solutions for up to four metric tons of payload at the lowest cost/kg in the small-lift class. Combined with Firefly’s in-space vehicles, such as the Orbital Transfer Vehicle and Genesis Lander, Firefly provides the space industry with a one-stop shop for missions to the surface of the Moon or beyond. Headquartered in Cedar Park, TX, Firefly is financed by Max Polyakov’s Noosphere Ventures of Menlo Park, CA. (Source: PR Newswire)
28 Oct 20. USAF wants help seeing moving targets in its sensor data. The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded Descartes Labs a $2.2m contract to generate real-time analytics with a focus on developing moving target indication data, the company announced Oct. 27.
Under this new contract, AFRL will gain access to the company’s geospatial analytics platform, which uses artificial intelligence and computer vision to process and fuse sensor data, such as satellite imagery, for tactical use.
Descartes Labs claims the focus of this contract will involve using its platform to help the Air Force solve the challenge of generating moving target indication data for ground and airborne targets.
The New Mexico-based company was recently awarded a contract from AFRL and AFWERX — an Air Force effort to spark innovation through nontraditional vendors — that gave the service access to Descartes Labs’ geospatial analytics platform for multi-sensor data fusion and situational awareness. The company has also worked with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, helping the firm further refine its approach.
“Through the implementation of multi-sensor analytics, the Air Force is creating a forward-thinking state-of-the-art national security system,” Mike Warren, Descartes Labs co-founder and chief technology officer, said in a statement. “Through increasing use of diverse types of data, the Air Force is laying the groundwork to solve tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance problems now and in the future.”
This latest contract was issued through AFRL’s Space Technology Advanced Research program, which was launched in summer 2019 to develop enabling technologies for space-based capabilities, including on-orbit servicing, debris management, ground systems and more. (Source: Defense News)
29 Oct 20. Thales partners with Optus to receive next-gen SBAS signal in Australia. In an important milestone for the delivery of a Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) for Australia and New Zealand, Thales Australia and Optus Satellite have successfully received a new SBAS signal in Western Australia.
This testing uses a next-generation Thales SBAS technology developed especially for customers close to the equator with difficult ionospheric conditions, like Australia and New Zealand.
SBAS and PPP (Precise Point Positioning) will deliver a greatly enhanced positioning service for Australia and New Zealand under the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network being undertaken jointly by the governments of Australia and New Zealand.
In order to test and validate key subsystems for the delivery of early services to Australia and New Zealand should Thales be selected to supply the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network, the transmission received in WA was generated by Thales Alenia Space using the NIGCOMSAT-1R satellite, currently involved in testing of a next-generation SBAS solution.
Thales Australia director space Matt Dawson said that Thales’s strong global team and integrated industrial network extends across multiple continents and demonstrates its ability to deliver system outcomes despite the challenges of COVID-19.
“Thales has been supported in its work by specialist expertise from GPSat Systems based in Melbourne, and by Hexagon | NovAtel, a world leading GNSS receiver manufacturer. NovAtel engineers that have also been monitoring this new broadcast, reported sufficient data to track PRN 147 signals and use them for SBAS corrections,” Dawson explained.
Thales Alenia Space VP navigation Benoit Broudy said that Australia is integral to the global development of Thales’s SBAS and PPP solutions and will benefit from major advances in the technology.
“The current broadcast comes via the NIGCOMSAT-1R satellite, that is positioned to serve Africa, so Western Australia is on the very edge of its coverage area. We are offering two new satellite payloads aboard Optus satellites to provide services across Australia and New Zealand, which could be extended into the Pacific island regions,” Broudy said.
Optus head of satellite and space systems, Nick Leake, said, “Receiving this signal through Optus’ Lockridge Earth Station, using Thales’s SBAS technology, is a major milestone and demonstrates what is possible from a world leading SBAS provider. With multiple gateways across Australia and the most experienced satellite fleet and workforce in the region, Optus continues to lead in satellite and space in Australia.”
Thales in Australia is a trusted partner of the Australian Defence Force and is also present in commercial sectors ranging from air traffic management and ground transport systems to security systems and services. Employing around 3,900 people, Thales in Australia recorded revenues of more than $1.39bn in 2018 and export revenue of over $1.6bn in the past 10 years.
Thales Australia has a history of patient investment to build advanced in-country capability across manufacturing, critical systems and services. Close collaborative relationships with local customers, Australian SME suppliers and research institutions combined with technology transfer from our global business enables Thales to tailor high quality solutions for Australian and export markets. (Source: Space Connect)
28 Oct 20. KLEOS SPACE Satellites Launch date set for 7 November.
Satellite Launch Preparations Completed.
- Kleos Space Mission Team complete preparations for November 7 Launch
- Satellites armed for flight, inserted into their dispensers ready for integration
- Only company to fly clusters of four satellites to detect & locate the usage of the RF spectrum
- Kleos Space aims to guard borders, protect assets and save lives
- Global Customers eagerly awaiting Kleos Space data
Kleos Space S.A. (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company confirms that final preparations for the launch of Kleos’ four Scouting Mission nanosatellites has been completed by its team of mission experts in India. Launch is targeted for 7th November from India’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre, aboard NewSpace India Limited’s (NSIL) PSLV C49.
The Kleos team performed system checkout and mechanical inspection prior to battery charging and fuelling. The satellites were then armed for flight, inserted into their dispensers ready for integration onto the PSLV-C49 launch vehicle.
The India Space Research Organisation have published on their website the following information on launch timing:
“India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle in its 51st mission (PSLV-C49), will launch EOS-01 as primary satellite along with nine international customer satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. The launch is tentatively scheduled at 1502 Hrs IST (20:32 AEDT) on November 07, 2020, subject to weather conditions.”
Andy Bowyer, CEO of Kleos Space added – “We are immensely proud of the entire team, they have gone above and beyond the call of duty to get our Scouting satellites launched in the middle of a pandemic. We have moved one step closer to delivering our data products that will enhance situational awareness for our customers.”
Simulation of Kleos satellites in orbit post launch. www.shorturl.at/hnDM0
The Scouting Mission satellites will launch into a 37-degree inclination, significantly improving data collection over crucial areas of interest such as Strait of Hormuz, South China Sea, East/West Africa, Southern Sea of Japan, northern Australian coast e.g. the Timor Sea.
16 Oct 20. The Army is taking to space as it works to expand “the depth and breadth” of its ability to quickly and accurately deliver intelligence to troops on the battlefield, said Lt. Gen. Laura Potter, deputy chief of staff for intelligence.
Speaking Oct. 16 during a Warriors Corner presentation at AUSA Now, the 2020 virtual annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army, Potter talked about the Army’s plans to better use tactical space assets to help deliver intelligence with greater speed, precision and accuracy.
Part of the effort is the establishment of the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Task Force, which works with Army Futures Command to “shape requirements for an Army ISR framework that can leverage organic collection systems and access to data from national, joint and coalition partner collectors,” Potter said.
“In this pursuit, the space domain offers the greatest potential to expand the depth and breadth of multidomain intelligence,” she said. “Our vision for the space domain is to ensure the Army can leverage the entirety of space-based ISR to allow our commanders, tactical to strategic, to see first, understand first, decide first and act first. We will reduce the decision cycle from minutes to seconds, providing a distinct advantage over our adversaries.”
The Army also is expanding its partnerships across DoD and the intelligence community and continuing to develop the Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node, or TITAN.
The TITAN system is a scalable and expeditionary intelligence ground station that uses space and high-altitude, aerial and terrestrial layer sensors to provide targetable data for fires networks, according to the Army. It also provides multidiscipline intelligence support for targeting, and situational awareness and understanding for mission command.
“Our strong and enduring partnerships across the Department of Defense and the intelligence community ensure that Army intelligence leverages the power of the enterprise to support the Army’s modernization strategy,” Potter said.
The Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing Cross-Functional Team is deeply involved in this effort as well, said Willie Nelson, the team’s director.
“One of the major challenges and one of the areas that the [cross-functional team] is partnered with the ISR Task Force and Army G-2 is the development of space prototypes and capabilities on orbit that can have the ability to sense very deep and rapidly transmit that data back to the warfighters, and then process that data in a way that it can be digitally connected to our weapons systems,” Nelson said. (Source: AUSA 2020 News)
27 Oct 20. Military Satellite Napa-1 to Boost Royal Thai Airforce Capability. Recently, the Royal Thai Air Force launched its first satellite and will play a crucial role in the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) Defense System. The Napa-1 satellite would have cameras crucial to the RTAF’s Defense System while strengthening national security and preventing threats. Napa-1 satellite together with other existing sensory systems will better equip the air force to handle various operations including natural disaster relief work; controlling wildfires; protecting natural resources and water management.
RTAF’s Space Operation Centre (SPOC) was set up last year to enhance RTAF’s capacity in space in a bid to enhance its operational capacity and upgrade the country’s capabilities in space missions. The new center aligns with the air force’s strategy, which includes “space” as a domain for operations ranging from surveillance and patrol, to the creation and maintenance of satellites and tracking of space objects.
This development presents golden business opportunities for companies in the defense and security industry for collaborations and maximizing the RTAF capability of various projects. Defense & Security 2021, which employs the concept of ‘ Power of Partnership’; over the past 20 years has been successfully presenting outstanding opportunity for exhibitors to network, exchange knowledge, do business and initiate long-term associations based on mutual understanding, trust, and the needs of military decision-makers and related government agencies from Thailand and ASEAN. (Source: Bangkok Post / New Straits Times /RTFA / Thai PBS)
26 Oct 20. Virgin Galactic prepares for first flight of SpaceShip Two. Virgin Galactic is preparing for the first spaceflight from its operational base at Spaceport America in New Mexico, which will occur later in the northern hemisphere autumn – the flight will be crewed by two pilots and will carry several research payloads in the cabin of VSS Unity.
One of the steps along the path to be ready for a spaceflight is to ensure that Virgin’s pilots are well prepared for the flight test objectives that they are about to conduct.
A significant amount of training occurs in the company’s ground-based simulator, both with the pilots on their own, as well as in sessions that are linked to the mission control room.
Virgin Galactic also has another powerful training tool for the pilots – the company’s mothership vehicle, VMS Eve.
Virgin Galactic’s chief pilot, Dave Mackay, explains, “VMS Eve has the ability to test pilot proficiency by simulating the glide and approach-to-land phase of flight for SpaceShipTwo pilots. The cockpit structure of Eve is almost identical to that of Unity: the same pilot seats and windows, as well as very similar flight controls and instruments.”
Preparing VSS Unity for flight also includes a “practice run” for the spaceship, as well as the pilots and teams in mission control.
The company put Unity through its paces on the ground, testing all systems prior to flight to ensure functionality – including raising the feather, swinging the landing gear, firing the reaction control thrusters, and sweeping the flight control systems through full range of motion.
“This, coupled with the fact that with Eve’s landing gear down, and one set of speed brakes out, it descends on the same flight path angle as SpaceShipTwo, means that the crew can practice the identical approach and landing pattern to the one they will fly in Unity – with much of the same information displays, and the same view out the window,” McKay added.
Pre-flight vehicle checks are designed to functionally verify that all systems are working as they should be, prior to the take-off.
With this flight being the first spaceflight from its home at Spaceport America, Virgin has planned a full rehearsal of its spaceship propellant loading procedures.
McKay added, “This makes Eve a very valuable in-flight simulator for the spaceship’s final approach and landing phases.”
During this rehearsal, it will perform a full tanking test, loading high-pressure helium and nitrous oxide into their respective spaceship tanks on-board VSS Unity.
This rehearsal will give the teams the opportunity to review the end to end execution of every step in the flight process at Spaceport.
Virgin Galactic said it is excited to announce that this upcoming spaceflight will be carrying research payloads in the cabin, as it had done on its previous spaceflights. For this flight, the company will have three payloads that are part of the NASA Flight Opportunities Program
Consistent with how Virgin Galactic conducted VSS Unity glide flights earlier this year at Spaceport America, all operations are following a set of stringent operational protocols that include changes to the work areas and procedures to enforce social distancing and universal mask usage, as advised by state guidelines.
Virgin Galactic expected the first spaceflight from Spaceport America to occur later this fall, and the company confirmed that it is still on track to meet this time frame. (Source: Space Connect)
26 Oct 20. UWA to support delivery of WA space communications station. The University of Western Australia (UWA) will play a critical role in supporting the delivery of an optical communications station capable of receiving high-speed data transmissions from space, which is set to be built in Western Australia.
The advanced communications ground station will be able to receive data from spacecraft anywhere between low-Earth orbit 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.
It 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.
Astrophotonics Group leader Dr Sascha Schediwy from UWA and ICRAR said optical communications was an emerging technology expected to revolutionise data transfer from space.
“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,” Dr Schediwy explained.
The ground station was launched today to coincide with the world’s premier global space event, 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.
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.
“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 commercialisation amongst quantum science researchers in Australia,” Professor White said.
Besides 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 said 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.
He said it would stand as an example of cutting-edge science partnering with forward-looking businesses and delivering impacts for both.
The station will use make use of a 0.7-metre observatory-grade optical telescope donated to ICRAR by Perth local Colin Eldridge, the station will be fitted with advanced atmospheric-noise suppression technology developed at UWA.
Additionally, the station will be connected to Goonhilly’s supercomputer data centre in Cornwall via high-speed fibre. 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.
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 WA.
“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,” Jones said.
Dr Schediwy said WA’s ground station would help launch Australia’s space communications capacity: “This will cement Australia’s position as a leader in optical data transmission, and position the nation to tap into the multibillion-dollar space communications market.”
The $535,000 station is expected to be ‘on-sky’ in early 2021 and open for business later that year.
UWA’s Astrophotonics Group is focused on designing, building, and testing advanced photonic systems with applications in radio astronomy, optical astronomy, and space science. The group’s core technological capability is the long-distance transfer of stabilised optical-frequency and microwave-frequency signals across optical fibre networks and free-space laser links.
EQUS’ mission is to engineer the quantum future by building quantum machines that harness the quantum world for practical applications.
Goonhilly is a private UK-based company comprised of highly skilled professionals and experienced satellite communications engineers who have been involved in many of the innovations in satellite communications and space science in the past 30 years. (Source: Space Connect)
18 Oct 20. Advantech Wireless Intros Their DeepBlu Series L-/S-Band SSPA System for TT&C + Deep Space Comms. Advantech Wireless Technologies has released their DeepBlu Series 4kW L / S-Band Modular SSPA System for LEO, MEO or GEO Satellite Telemetry, Tracking, and Control (TT&C) and Deep Space Communication.
The newly designed DeepBlu Series consists of fully modular Solid State Power Amplifier (SSPA) systems that can cover both L- and S-bands, from 1.76 to 2.16 GHz.
Configured in a rugged, weatherproof outdoor package, Advantech’s solid state amplifier designs are based on a modular architecture with 1:N built-in redundancy and field replaceable RF modules which minimize downtime. By using advanced wave forms, the system is designed to provide exceptionally high power and high linearity, a requirement for very long range, deep space communications and for multi-satellite TT&C from a common ground station.
With this new option, operators will require fewer ground stations to support the thousands of anticipated LEO Satellites per constellation.
The DeepBlu Series features…
- High power density in a compact, rugged, weatherproof package
- Designed for Multi Carrier Operations
- High Reliability, and Availability, delivers 1600kW/2000kW of Linear Power
- High Performance Modular, Built In Redundancy Outdoor design concept
- Can cover both L and S bands, from 1.76-2.16 GHz
- Achieves 1.6kW of Linear RF power even with one RF module failed
- Rugged, Weatherproof Outdoor Package, very high availability
- 1:N Built in Redundancy, Field replaceable RF module
- Reduced OPEX cost due to less spare parts required
- Backed by more than 25 years of Outdoor SSPA design and manufacturing (Source: Satnews)
21 Oct 20. Mynaric Selected By Telesat For Their CONDOR Optical Terminals For DARPA’s Blackjack Track B Program.
Mynaric has been selected by Telesat to supply multiple units of its flagship CONDOR optical, inter-satellite, link terminals to DARPA’s Blackjack Track B program.
The terminals are scheduled to be delivered in mid-2021 to DARPA’s Blackjack System Integrator with satellites scheduled to launch in the latter part of 2021. The launch will be the inaugural ride to space for Mynaric’s flagship CONDOR terminals – a key milestone and final trial for the product’s successful market introduction.
As part of the deal, Mynaric will also establish the industry’s first laser communication interoperability lab at its Los Angeles premises. The lab will be equipped with a link testbed capable of emulating conditions in space and testing inter-vendor operability – a key requirement of DARPA for its proliferated LEO constellation plans.
The soon-to-be-established interoperability lab will provide laser communication vendors selected as part of the Blackjack program with the opportunity to verify their compatibility with Mynaric’s terminals and between each other. It is intended to serve as a hub and enabler for testing interoperability and to help establish a common laser communication standard within the Blackjack program and potentially beyond.
Blackjack is a joint technology demonstration project by DARPA and the U.S. Space Force to evaluate utility and concepts of operation for a large-scale proliferated low Earth orbit satellite constellation. The overarching goal of the program is to leverage developments from the commercial sector to create a generic satellite bus and payloads for defense purposes. Mynaric’s CONDOR terminal, specifically developed for mass deployment and under stringent low size, weight, power and cost requirements (SWaP-C), is a natural fit for the program.
This award represents further validation that the laser communication market is now experiencing an inflection point and is moving from concept to implementation. Current developments are heavily driven by the fact that procurement for government is changing from acquiring bespoke projects to industrialized commercial products – especially in the USA.
Mynaric expects this to become the standard for how governmental agencies will work at large and globally in the future as it allows for the leveraging of commercial industrial achievements most effectively. As such, initial contract awards from the governmental markets are considered a precursor to the wider establishment of civil and commercial large-scale aerospace communication networks of the future.
“We are very happy to welcome Telesat and DARPA as inaugural launch customers for our CONDOR terminals and we are very much looking forward to supporting the mission’s target to demonstrate interoperability between different vendors. Interoperability allows not just DARPA but all of our customers to de-risk their supply chains and we expect it to work as a catalyst accelerating the large-volume deployment of laser communication systems. Consequently, Mynaric aims to take a leading role in establishing open industry standards for laser communications and it is an honor to host the industry’s first interoperability lab at our facilities in Los Angeles,” said Bulent Altan, CEO, Mynaric.
“Optical Inter-Satellite Links are the essential building block for next generation commercial and government space networks. Mynaric has developed impressive laser communications terminals that we will be demonstrating on-orbit under the DARPA Blackjack program. We expect that Mynaric, as a part of Telesat’s Blackjack team, will show the way to affordable ultra-high bandwidth laser communications capability for future resilient government space networks,” said Don Brown, GM, Telesat U.S. Services. (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.